Bainbridge High School hires Jay Walls as head football coach

Published 12:20 pm Friday, March 8, 2024

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It’s a new era for Bearcat football: Bainbridge High School has hired Jay Walls as its next head football coach.

Walls comes to the Bearcats from Navarre High School in Navarre, FL, where he served as head coach. He was approved for the position at a special called Decatur County Board of Education meeting Friday afternoon.

“I’m so excited about being here and being a Bainbridge Bearcat,” Walls said at the meeting. “The number one goal is to win the state championship… But the most important thing is we’re going to build men. You’re going to see a program that is uncommon in all that we do, from top to bottom, from A to Z. How hard we work, the things we do within the program. What I’m excited about is, I know to get that done, you’ve got to have support, and I know it’s here.”

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Walls has been coaching for 27 years and has accrued an overall record of 205-104 in tenures at Suwannee High School, Tift County High School and Navarre High School. 

“As long as I’ve been in this business,” Walls said. “You can have great players, but you better have a great team. A group of guys that are truly connected on the field and off the field. You’ve got to have that to be successful on a high level, and we’re going to have that. That’s a priority of mine”

Coach Walls has led teams to twenty-one playoff appearances in his career and has won multiple district and regional championships. He has been recognized as Coach of the Year by various prestigious organizations and has had twenty-seven players sign Division I football scholarships. 

Walls said he looks forward to getting started and continuing the high-caliber culture that has been set in Bainbridge.

“We’re going to dominate the process of preparing and getting ready for the season,” Walls said. “I guarantee you, won’t nobody outwork Bainbridge.”

Bainbridge High School Athletic Director Christopher Bryant said he was drawn to Walls since he first sat down to interview him during the coaching search. He said Walls is the “best fit” for the Bearcats.

“It was a thorough and extensive search process,” Bryant said. “I’m excited for him and what he’s going to bring to the table… He’s a high-character guy, he’s going to push that on our kids. We’re not only going to have great football, we’re going to grow men of integrity.”

Coach Walls is supported by his wife, Amy, an educator and a native of Tallahassee, Florida. Amy is a proud graduate of Florida State University.

Together, they have three daughters: Lindsey Gilbert, who resides in Jacksonville, Florida, with her husband Greg Gilbert, and their grandchildren Greyson and Merritt; Lauren Backus, who lives in Panama City, Florida, with her husband Tim Backus and their grandchildren Jackson and Anne-Marie; and Aubrey Walls, currently pursuing her studies at Pensacola State College.

“It is sincerely an honor, a privilege, and a dream come true for me and my family to be able to return to my home state and become a part of the Bainbridge Bearcat community,” Walls said 

Walls takes over for Jeff Littleton, who took a head coaching job at Tift County High School in February. Littleton spent 11 years in Bainbridge. He became the winningest head coach in Bainbridge history, securing five region championships and winning one state championship in 2018.

Littleton accrued a 72-36 (.667) regular season record and a 19-10 (.655) playoff record with the Bearcats. His region record at Bainbridge was 40-12 (.769), and he won four straight region championships from 2020-2023.

He won 91 games in the regular season and playoffs and is second* in all-time win percentage at .661. He’s behind Bainbridge’s only other state champion head coach, Ralph Jones, who earned a .692 win percentage from 1981-1987.

Littleton’s 11-year stent with Bainbridge is the T-2nd longest coaching tenure in Bearcat history. He matches Spencer Davis’s time (1955-1965) and sits behind Harry O. Shealy, who coached 13 seasons from 1925-1936.