Sports

Horsemen hire ex-Tide player as new coach

The Kentucky Horsemen named a new coach Thursday, Tommy Johnson, and also announced that they will be changing arena football leagues next season.

And let the quarterback controversy begin.

Johnson is a former head coach of the Louisville Fire. He will commute from Louisville, where he serves as a volunteer coach on Tim Green's staff at Kentucky Country Day High School.

He succeeds Mike Harmon as coach of the Horsemen. Harmon, head coach at Tates Creek, recently resigned from the Horsemen.

The new league will be called Arena Football 1 and will include teams from the Arena Football League and arenafootball2, which the Horsemen played in last season.

Horsemen General Manager Matt DiLorenzo said the new league will include about 25 teams and consist of two tiers. The plan is to couple "tier 2" teams, which will include the Horsemen, with a team from "tier 1" to allow for a kind of feeder system. Players that excel for a tier 2 team would have the opportunity to "move up" to the next level.

Ownership meetings are planned this weekend in Tulsa to finalize which other cities will have teams. A news conference is planned Monday to announce the formation of the league.

Jared Lorenzen and Justin Rascati shared time at quarterback last season. Johnson says he wants one starter.

"Every good team has a starting quarterback and a quarterback they feel comfortable with coming in if something happens with that starter," he said. "But the rotation thing, it gets those guys out of their rhythm. We want to get those guys into a situation where they've got their rhythm and they're moving our football team down the field and scoring points."

Johnson played defensive back on Alabama's 1992 national championship team. A team captain for the Crimson Tide, he played briefly with the Jacksonville Jaguars, NFL Europe and the Arena Football League. His coaching career began in 2001 as defensive coordinator of one of his former teams, the Fire. He was head coach when the Fire played their final season in 2008. He was hired to be defensive coordinator for the Arena Football League's Colorado Crush last season before the league suspended operations.

Sitting out the season, he attended several Horsemen games. Seeing the game from a different angle, he said the season off also rekindled his passion for the game.

Johnson has not selected his staff yet.

He said he expects the Horsemen to put the community first, show respect, play hard and make fans feel at home. That will ensure support as the fans "cheer us to championships. We will win football games. We are going to take this thing to the next level."

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