Palmer resigns

Mark Palmer has stepped down after nine seasons as football coach at Patrick Henry to accept a similar position at Anderson County in Kentucky.

After leading Patrick Henry High School’s football program to new heights, Mark Palmer is making a move.

Palmer confirmed on Friday afternoon that he had accepted the head-coaching job at Anderson County High School in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

“My family and I are excited about this new opportunity and the chance to work in the Anderson County community,” Palmer said. “At the same time, it’s bittersweet, because we love the people and the players at Patrick Henry. We’re going to miss that Rebel brotherhood. The strong community support at Patrick Henry has been wonderful.”

With Virginia schools currently closed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Palmer spent most of Friday calling and video conferencing his players at Patrick Henry to inform them of the move.

Palmer compiled a 62-43 during his nine seasons leading PH and orchestrated a turnaround that saw the Rebels transform from being a Hogoheegee District doormat when he first arrived to Hogoheegee District champions by the time he departed.

His first team in 2011 won just one game, while the 2019 squad went 13-1, claimed the VHSL Region 1D championship and reached the state semifinals. The season ended with a 41-16 defeat the hands of Galax.

Once a star running back at Ervinton High School, Palmer had a stint playing at Liberty University prior to entering the coaching profession.

Palmer also has head-coaching experience at Ervinton (1990-97) and St. Paul (2003-2010), while he was an assistant on Dennis Vaught’s staff at Lexington when the team won the 1988 VHSL Group A, Division 2 state title.

The Bluegrass State now awaits Palmer, who is known for his enthusiastic demeanor, positive approach and offensive innovation.

“I’m excited for the future of Bearcat Football,” Superintendent Sheila Mitchell said in a press release issued by the Anderson County school system on Friday. “Coach Palmer brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table and will be a great addition to our community. I was truly amazed at the number of high level applicants and commend Principal [Chris] Glass and his committee for their hard work.”

The 53-year-old Palmer replaces another Mark as head coach of the Bearcats.

Mark Peach went 114-63 at Anderson County from 2005-2019 and led the Bearcats to a state runner-up finish in 2011. Peach is now at the helm of Trigg County.

Anderson County has an enrollment of 1,088 and is a Class 4A program. The Bearcats are coming off a 4-7 showing in 2019 and lost several standout seniors from that team.

Boyle County, Lexington Catholic and Bourbon County are Anderson County’s District 5 rivals.

After putting in work at PH, Palmer will try to do the same in Kentucky.

“This was a difficult process but we feel that Coach Palmer exhibits all the qualities to run a successful program and develop fine young men for Anderson County,” Principal Chris Glass said in a press release.

thayes@bristolnews.com | Twitter:@hayes_BHCSports | (276) 645-2570

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