PELL CITY -- Rush Propst will return to high school football in the state of Alabama. That return, however, won’t come at Gadsden’s Coosa Christian, where he was introduced as the football coach and athletic director in January. Instead, he will become the head football coach at Pell City High.

Propst, who turned Hoover High into a powerhouse during his tenure from 1999-2007, was hired and introduced at Pell City High on Friday. The introduction came at the school’s auditorium with his new players, school board members, and community members on hand.

“I felt like coming to Pell City, I feel like it’s possibly pretty strong that this is my last chapter in my coaching career,” said Propst, who has won 295 games and seven state championship in 31 years as a high school coach in Alabama and Georgia. “When this job came available, (former UAB head coach) Bill Clark and I talked about this job all the way back over a year ago. In December, we sat down and talked about this in a hunting lodge in South Georgia. As time went on and the job came open, we came after it.”

Propst, who was officially approved by the Pell City school board on Friday morning, said he received support from the leaders at Coosa Christian when making the decision.

“The real special place to me is where I’m coming from,” Propst said. “They’re here today. They’re here to support me. I think it’s unprecedented, that people you’re leaving, come support a man that has left their program. I will never forget them. I will never forget what they did for me. They will always have a special place in my heart. They’re good Christian people. I love every moment I was there.”

Coosa Christian students and faculty are currently on spring break. Propst said he will return to the school when classes resume and talk to the players about his decision.

He takes over a Pell City program that has a humble recent past. The Panthers, who compete in Class 6A Region 6, were 1-9 last season with a 70-40 victory over Springville marking the lone win of the season. Pell City hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2017, haven’t won a playoff game since 2012, and hasn’t won more than one playoff game in a season since advancing to the quarterfinals in 2003.

That is part of what intrigued Propst, whose wife, Stefnie, is a 1988 graduate of the school.

“Just the ultimate challenge,” Propst said. “It’s probably one of the greatest challenges of my life. I’d have to say Alma Bryant and this one would rival it. Every place I’ve been has been down when I got there. I’ve not stepped into one place that had a winning program when I got there. Valdosta had a winning program. Hoover had gone three straight with no more than four wins.”

During his introduction, Propst spent much of the time delivering a message to the players that were in the audience. He said that during his career, 256 of his players had signed college scholarships. At Colquitt County in Georgia, he said, every senior starter during a six-year period signed a scholarship.

“You’ll get my very best,” Propst said. “My job is to make you believe, that’s my job. From day one, I believe this, to be big, you’ve got to think big. If you’re going to be a champion, we must treat you like a champion. I’ve always believed that. If you make them believe you’re a championship-caliber group, then they’ll perform a lot better. If you go in there and say that you don’t have talent, you don’t have this, you don’t have that, you’re not going to hear me say that. Never. At the end of the day, it’s about what you put into it. We’ll do it together.”

Propst left little doubt about the goal of the program but didn’t set a specific timetable for meeting that goal.

“People are going to ask you, people are going to ask me, how many games are we going to win?” Propst said. “Don’t give them a number, just don’t. I don’t talk about winning seasons. I don’t talk about goals. There is only one goal in football, on the field. There’s a lot of goals, but there’s only one on the field. That’s to be a state champion. Period. And that’s the only thing you hear me talk about. Will it happen? I can’t tell you that, I don’t know that. There’s no time frame on winning a state title. It’s hard, there’s no doubt about it. But there’s things you’ve got to do to achieve that. It takes patience, it takes time.”

Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.