Clark, 64, retired as the winningest coach in the history of Dobyns-Bennett in 2018 with 233 victories over 25 seasons. During his tenure, he guided the Indians to 17 conference championships and 25 consecutive playoff appearances.
He’ll work under coach Curt Newsome, whose Wasps finished 4-5 last season.
“I’m ready to get my stinger back and get back to the land of the Wasps,” Clark said. “Curt and I have been great friends forever and talked about it a couple of times. I’ve had a year off and I’ve got a chance to get away a bit. It’s exciting because it’s the second time I’ve got to coach at a place where I graduated from.”
His high school coaching record is 252-71, including two seasons at Chilhowie High School. Clark had 14 seasons of 10 or more victories and won 77% of his games at D-B. With the new job, part of his responsibility will be recruiting in Northeast Tennessee.
“I’m looking forward to going around the East Tennessee area and getting to know some of these youngsters,” Clark said. “I think it’s going to be a good thing.”
Clark will be coaching at the college level for the first time since the 1970s, when he served as a graduate assistant at Appalachian State after graduating from Emory & Henry. Even in his year away from coaching, Clark regularly attended football games, showing his deep passion for the game.
“I love the sport and I love the kids,” he said. “I needed a little bit of a break, and I wouldn’t have taken just any opportunity. It’s exciting to be going back to Emory & Henry.”
Clark sees his role on the field similar to his long stint at Dobyns-Bennett when he usually called the offensive plays and left the defense up to his coordinators. Newsome, who took over the E&H program in 2014, was also an accomplished high school coach for 16 years before entering the collegiate ranks.
“I watched a couple of games last year and they had some good offensive talent,” Clark said of the Wasps. “When I was the head coach, I was also the offensive coordinator. I’m sure there will be times he will say, ‘Let’s call something else.’ That will be a little different for me, but at the same time, he’s the head coach.
“I was blessed to have really good defensive coordinators. For the most part, I would let them do their things and I ran the offense. I feel like I’m doing the same thing I did for a long time.”