Talladega boys basketball: Dawson hired as Tigers head coach

Dawson named head coach

Ryan Dawson will coach the Talladega High School boys varsity team next season.

The Talladega Board of Education unanimously approved, during its meeting Tuesday night, the hire of Ryan Dawson to coach the boys varsity basketball squad.

Dawson will replace Chucky Miller at the helm after two seasons as the Lady Tigers head coach. 

“It’s an honor,” Dawson said. “I’m humble. I appreciate the opportunity of being in this position. 

“I’m thankful for Coach Miller. When he first got there, I learned a lot of X’s and O’s from him … Knowing the shoes I have to fill, it’s a humbling opportunity.”

Talladega Superintendent Tony Ball said he’s excited about Dawson taking over a steady and consistent program.

“He’s been our girls coach the past couple years,” Ball said. “I actually hired him in that position. I think he brings a lot of basketball knowledge, but the big thing is he has a keen love for Talladega and Talladega High School.

“He’s following Coach Miller, who is a legend. We certainly thank Coach Miller for everything he’s done for Talladega High School.”

Miller led the Tigers to four consecutive Final Fours -- two in Class 5A and two in 4A. He retired following the 2019-20 season with a 785-347 career record that spanned 40 seasons, 20 at Talladega.

In both seasons in 4A, Talladega advanced to the state championship game, where it brought home a blue map for the 2018-19 season following a 60-48 victory over West Limestone. The Tigers fell short in a 68-61 loss to Williamson this February. 

The Tigers will return to 5A under the Alabama High School Athletic Association realignment for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years.

“Coach Miller did a great job of developing a winning culture at Talladega,” Dawson said. “That culture is still there, regardless of whether you’re a 4A, 5A or 6A. Coach Miller played a schedule that was conducive to playing up and preparing young men for the challenges of the playoffs and tournament play. I think these guys will be ready for that challenge.”

Talladega will compete against Sylacauga, Central Clay County and Shelby County in area play.

The crop of seniors that should return for the boys team in the winter are a bunch Dawson said he has plenty of familiarity with.

“It will be a senior-heavy team coming back and an experienced team coming back,” Dawson said. “I had those guys for three years in seventh, eighth and ninth grade. In those three years, we went undefeated when I had them. 

“So I know a lot about those guys, and they know a lot about me as well. It’s going to be a privilege to be able to coach these young men.”

This isn’t Dawson’s first time replacing a storied coach at Talladega.

Dawson spent the past two seasons filling the void left when girls basketball coach Jannie Keith departed Talladega after 12 seasons following her 2017-18 campaign. Dawson said the board would be hiring a replacement to fill the vacancy.

“I’m sad because of that as well because this would have been my third year coaching (the girls),” Dawson said. “We have a lot of experience coming back. We were looking forward to going in and trying to compete.”

Dawson guided the girls to a 28-25 record during his two years as coach.