NEW MARTINSVILLE - The Magnolia football program is rich in tradition.
Josh Sims wants to keep it that way.
Sims, who was hired as the Blue Eagles' newest coach during the end of the previous school year, inherits a team that thrived under long-time coach Mark Batton.
In his 15 years as coach, Batton's teams advance to the playoffs 11 times and reached the semifinals or finals in five of the last six seasons, including capturing the 2010 West Virginia Class AA state title.
While the 26-year-old Sims, an assistant last season, understands those are some pretty big shoes to fill, he says he's up for the challenge.
''I'm definitely a little bit of a young buck,'' Sims said, ''but I feel I'm pretty mature for my age. I've been around Coach Batton and Coach (Dave) Chapman. Those guys have progressed my experience because I listen to their advice and to their experiences.
''I know some people have been worried about my age, but I've been around this game my whole life.''
It started right at Alumni Field where Sims played quarterback, running back, free safety and strong safety for the Blue Eagles until he graduated in 2006.
''I played all over the place,'' Sims recalled. ''Wherever they needed me that week. That was a situation where it really helped me learn the game because I had to learn all those positions.''
After, he was recruited by Bill Stewart to play at West Virginia University where the Mountaineers put him in the spur/bandit safety role in their 3-3-5 defensive alignment.
''Obviously, a lot of my experience comes from (WVU),'' Sims said. ''When I played, I was a student of the game and a coach on the field. I'm not too worried about my experience.''
Sims, much like Batton, has surrounded himself with a solid coaching staff that begins with Chapman, the long-time offensive coordinator.
''He's going to be doing the same things,'' Sims said. ''I'll have my input, but that guy has been doing it for a long time and I'd be crazy not to listen to what he has to say. I think we do have a real good staff.''
It continues with with two other former Magnolia players in John Smith and Nathan West. Smith will run the defense, while West will coach receivers and defensive backs.
Nathan Riggs will serve as offensive/defensive line coach.
''I understand there's a lot of things to learn,'' Sims said. ''Even after I've been doing this for 10 of 15 years I'll still feel that way. You should always be looking to get better both as a player or coach.
''I definitely have had my work cut out for me since I got (the job). A lot more responsibility than being an assistant. It's been fun, though.''