Dustin Fry named Polk County head football coach
Published 11:40 am Tuesday, February 14, 2023
Dustin Fry’s football background prompted one veteran of the sport to note that “his resume is better than any high school football coach in America.”
Now Fry has a new position to add to that history – head football coach at Polk County High School.
The Polk County Board of Education officially approved Fry on Monday evening as the sixth head coach in school history, replacing Bruce Ollis, who announced in November his intent to retire at the end of the current school year.
Fry will be no stranger to the Wolverine program, having served last season as an assistant coach. He brings a coaching background that includes eight seasons of NCAA Division I experience, including stints at Southern Methodist and Arkansas as offensive line coach.
“I’m very honored, only being around the team for a year, to have that much thought about me (to be chosen),” Fry said. “When I started working here, this was never in mind. When Bruce started talking about retiring, he asked if I might be interested in putting in my resume.
“Then to have Jamie Thompson’s blessing, for him to say that he’s done it once and not interested in being the head coach again, I started to think seriously about it.”
Fry played high school football at Summerville High School in South Carolina for legendary head coach John McKissick, the winningest coach in the sport’s history. He then played collegiately at Clemson, letting for four seasons and earning All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors in 2006. He was nominated for the Rimington Award, given annually to the top lineman in college football, and started in the 2007 Senior Bowl.
Fry was a fifth-round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2007 and played four seasons in the NFL. He returned to Clemson as a player development coach to begin his post-playing career and spent two-plus years there before being hired at SMU, where he coached for three seasons before joining former Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris at Arkansas.
Fry also served as run game coordinator at Arkansas in addition to his offensive line duties.
“Polk County Schools is proud to announce that Dustin Fry will be the next head football coach of the Polk County High School Wolverines,” said Polk County Superintendent Aaron Greene. “Coach Fry did an outstanding job last season as he came on board to help Coach Ollis and the Wolverines and is now familiar with our students, our program and our community.
“Mr. Fry brings with him an incredible resume, truckloads of coaching experience and a sincere love of the game. We are excited to have him leading our Wolverines into the 2023 season.”
After leaving the Arkansas program in late 2019, Fry and his wife, Laura, eventually moved to Tryon so that his children could attend Tryon Elementary School. In the time since, Fry thought both about returning to the college ranks as a coach and also thought about finding a non-football job. What he knew for certain, though, was that he didn’t want to move his family from Polk County.
“I wanted to keep the boys in school and not do what I had to do as a Navy kid, moving every few years,” Fry said. “I’ve been saying for a long time that I wanted to set down roots somewhere. I finally thought it was an appropriate time do try that, to put down roots and let the kids grow up with the same friends from elementary school and into high school.
“Getting over the ego of it, I realized that I don’t have to be a college coach to be fulfilled. I am enjoying this time with my family and enjoying the chance to be part of this community. I want to be able to be more a part of the community.”
Fry will take over a Polk County squad that finished 5-6 last season and will have to replace Shrine Bowl standout Angus Weaver, three-year starting quarterback Casey Beiler and several other graduates.
“The nice thing is that there’s nothing like a complete rebuild or changing all the culture that has to be done,” Fry said. “The program is in good standing and has a good base. Through every aspect that I’ve seen, from high school to the pros, I’ve seen how programs run best and I’ve seen what coaches should do and not do.
“We will have an identity where we play hard, play with effort, be able to complete and be able to finish. Year in and year out, what we do schematically may change based on who we have. We will put a lot of emphasis on summer conditioning. That’s when you find out who your leaders are and who you can rely on in October and November when it really counts.”
Fry will join the Polk County High School faculty as a member of the physical education department and will teach weight training.