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Justin Qualls

The Stone Memorial Panther football team will be under the direction of a new defensive coordinator in 2020, as Justin Qualls will take over the unit.

“I’m real excited,” he said. “I think it’s great that we’re getting to do some stuff. Getting in here and moving some weight around, and going on the field and getting technique figured out is big.”

Qualls is an Upper Cumberland product.

He graduated from Upperman High School and played college football at Tennessee Tech University.

“I coached for four years at Upperman; that’s where I met coach (Derik) Samber,” Qualls said.

He coached at Upperman, York Institute and Cookeville before finding his way to Stone Memorial.

“It’s a chance to be around a good culture,” Qualls said. “I really enjoyed my time at Cookeville High School, but this is a chance to come here and run a defense and have a bigger role.”

When asked what he likes to do defensively, Qualls’ answer was quick.

“Stop the run,” he said. “If you stop the run, and make a 15- to 17-year-old quarterback throw to beat you, you’re going to win a lot of ball games.

“We will sell out to stop the run, and we will focus on technique and details.”

Stone Memorial will look to right the ship in 2020 after a 3-8 campaign in 2019. Stone Memorial finished 9-2 in 2018 and was ranked as high as eighth in Class 4A.

The Panthers will open the 2020 regular season at Grace Christian Academy in Knoxville on Friday, Aug. 21.