Smitty Grider takes over Benjamin Russell Football Program

Alexander City, AL – The Benjamin Russell Wildcats have found their next leader on the gridiron.  Smitty Grider has officially been named the Alexander City program’s 18th head football coach.  

Grider replaces Aubrey Blackwell who resigned to take the same position at Mississippi’s Jackson Academy following the 2021 season.  Blackwell lead the Wildcats to a 3-7 mark in his lone season at Ben Russell.  

A graduate of Montgomery’s Jeff Davis High School, Grider has spent the past three seasons at the hem of the 7A Dothan Wolves program, where he posted a 14-16 record including a region title and a trip to the postseason in 2019.   Before taking over at Dothan he spent one season at Hazel Green, leading the Trojans to a 4-7 mark. 

From 2014 to 2017 Grider served as Park Crossing’s first head football coach where he guided the Thunderbirds to a combined 38-9 record highlighted by three consecutive region crowns, three playoff berths and a trip to the AHSAA Class 6A semifinals in 2016.  

Click here to take a look at the full 2022 Alabama high school football Coaching Carousel. 

His longest head coaching stint was an eight year run at Beauregard.  Grider notched a 64-28 record, captured one region title and made seven trips to the playoffs.  After spend time as an assistant at Opelika and Smiths Station he accepted his first head coaching job at Central Coosa in 2005, finishing his lone season with the Cougars at 5-5.

Grider’s career head coaching record currently stands at 125-65, 78-33 in region play, with five region titles and 12 playoff appearances over 18 seasons.  

Benjamin Russell has been home to several legendary head football coaches including Danny Horn (2009-2017), Willie Martin (2001-2006), former AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese (1985-1996) and Hamp Lyon (1937-1941) & (1946-1957).  

The Wildcats will join Briarwood Christian, Calera, Clinton County, Helen, Homewood and Pelham in a redrawn Class 6A, Region 3 in 2022.