CRESTVIEW — It was better late than never for Greg Watson.
He applied for the Crestview High School boys basketball coach position last fall and was offered the job. However, he couldn’t get out of his contract at Belgreen High School in Russellville, Ala.
The job went to Ken Meisner, but Watson got his second chance after Meisner resigned in April to follow his wife to a job in Illinois.
"We are excited that we had a second chance to get him,” Crestview High principal Bob Jones said. “What I like about him is he has played for a great coach (Don Meyer) up at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn.
"We were very impressed with the fact that in two other places he has turned programs around. The good thing is our program does not need to be turned around. It's already doing well so we are looking for some great things right off the bat."
A 1997 graduate of Hazel Green High School in Alabama, Watson has spent his entire coaching career in his home state, where he compiled an overall record of 130-70 as a head coach at Hazel Green and Belgreen.
He also spent a year as an assistant coach at Robertsdale, Ala., which indirectly led him to Crestview.
"When I was at Robertsdale for a year, I really liked living in South Alabama," he said. "Whenever I was looking at jobs and kind of browsing — I had been through Crestview before — and just being in the Panhandle, I kind of see that as similar to south Alabama."
Watson met with his new team for the first time Thursday morning and is ready to get started.
"We are going to start doing some stuff next week, practice-wise," he said. "There's always a case of nerves going into a new place because you want everyone to accept you. But it's always exciting because it's a new league and it's a new challenge."
Watson likes the way the players look and he was pleased that Denzel Ware will be back to help man the low post.
Watson said he kept up with the Bulldogs last year, and he's been in touch with Shoal River Middle School basketball coach Mitch Buckelew, so he has an idea about the kinds of players he'll have.
Watson believes in matching his coaching style to the players he has, but there’s a foundation to his leadership.
"My main philosophy, and what I'd like to do, is we are going to focus on defense first," he said. "We are going to be tough. We are going to do the little things right.
"We are going to block out, we are going to take charges. I believe in those type things. When I played for coach Meyer at Lipscomb, he stressed things like that."
Watson's defense-first approach doesn't mean the Bulldogs won't be an offense-minded team.
"I was always kind of a shooter when I played, so obviously offense is important to me," he said. "But what we do is going to be based on what I think we do best."
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.