There were 77 head coaches hired by GHSA schools over the offseason. This week, GHSF Daily has been looking at each new coach, concluding today with classes AA and A.
Number of hires: 14
Best hire: Franklin Stephens, Lamar County
Hardest to replace: Robby Pruitt, Fitzgerald
Best job: Greater Atlanta Christian
Toughest job: Jordan
Most interesting: Franklin Stephens, coach of 2011 Class AAAA champion Tucker, and Lee Shaw, coach of Flowery Branch, left big-time jobs for the country. Stephens went to rural Lamar County, a AA school in middle Georgia. Shaw took the job at his alma mater, Rabun County, in the mountains of northeast Georgia.
*Berrien hired Chipley (Fla.) head coach Rob Armstrong to replace Tony Long, who was 1-9 in one season. Armstrong was 22-12 in three seasons at Chipley and was 11-3 in 2011, reaching the Class 1A championship game. Armstrong was an assistant at Lowndes from 2002 to 2006, serving most recently as offensive coordinator. Armstrong also has been a head coach at Graceville, Freeport, Walton and Marianna in Florida. Berrien's last winning season was 1995 (5-4-1).
*Fitzgerald hired Lamar County head coach Jason Strickland to replace Robby Pruitt, who was 120-21-1 in 11 seasons. Strickland took Lamar to the Class AA quarterfinals and a 12-1 finish in 2011 and was 27-18 in four seasons. Before coming to Lamar County, Strickland was the defensive coordinator on state championship teams in 2005 and 2006 at Charlton County. Fitzgerald was 11-2 in 2011, making it eight consecutive seasons with at least 10 victories.
*Screven County hired Elbert County defensive coordinator Ron Duncan to replace Greg Manior, who was let go and took the head job at Mundy's Mill in Clayton County. Duncan was head coach at Seneca (6-16 in 2008-09) and Bamberg Ehrhardt (49-12 in 2003-07) in South Carolina. Manior was 5-15 in two seasons, 2-8 in 2011. Screven has won one playoff game (2003) since its 2004 state championship.
*Bleckley County hired Dublin running backs coach Tracy White, a Bleckley alumnus, to replace Sam Barrs, who retired after 24 seasons as a Georgia head coach, the past seven at Bleckley. White was at Bleckley in 2008 before joining Dublin's staff. White also coached at Dublin during Barrs' tenure there. Bleckley was 6-5 last season and made the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
*Lamar County hired Tucker head coach Franklin Stephens to replace Jason Strickland, who took the head job at Fitzgerald. Stephens was 64-6 in five seasons at Tucker and won state titles in 2008 and 2011. Stephens, a Burke County native, was a college football teammate of Lamar County principal Derick Austin at Georgia Southern. Before getting the Tucker job, Stephens had been an assistant at Burke County (1996-2001) and Camden County (2002-06). Teams with Stephens on their staff are 171-35-1.
*Macon County hired Riverdale offensive coordinator Larry Harold to replace Matthew Lester, who was 11-30 in four seasons. Harold is a former lineman at Southern University in Baton Rouge and coached high school ball in Louisiana for eight seasons until coming to Georgia in 2010 to coach at Campbell in Smyrna. Macon County had seven 10-win seasons in the 1990s and two more in 2003-04 but has suffered its first three-year streak of losing seasons in 25 years, hitting bottom last year at 1-9.
*Jordan hired Lassiter defensive line coach Jim Brown to replace David Nurnberg, who was 7-23 in three seasons, 0-10 in 2011. Brown is a Columbus State graduate who served 14 years in the Army before starting a career in coaching. He had coached at two colleges and a high school before coming to Georgia in 2006 to work at Chattahoochee County. He's been at Lassiter since 2008. He missed the 2010 season and part of 2011 while on deployment to Afghanistan. Jordan's last winning season was 1993 (7-4), its last playoff victory 1951 (8-4).
*Greater Atlanta Christian hired Mountain View head coach Tim Hardy to replace Tim Cokely, who took the head job at Marianna High in Florida. Hardy started the Mountain View program in 2009 and was 9-15. He coached nine seasons at Wheaton College, a Division III school in Illinois where he also was quarterback and conference offensive player of the year in 1998. GAC was 9-3 and 8-2 under Cokely after consecutive losing seasons.
*Chattooga promoted assistant head coach Clay Livingston to replace Brad Waggoner, who took the head job at Decatur. Livingston, also the school's wrestling coach, has specialized in the offensive line and strength and conditioning while at Chattooga, North Cobb (2007-09), Alexander (2005-06) and Cartersville (1997-2004). His line blocked for Ronnie Brown on Cartersville's 1999 state championship team. Livingston played on Warner Robins' 1988 state championship team. Waggoner was 18-13 in three seasons.
*Model hired Gordon Powers, its coach from 2003 to 2008, to replace Lynn Hunnicutt, who was 4-16 in two seasons. Powers was 21-40 in his first stint with Model and led the Rome school to its only playoff appearance (2003) since 1997. Powers had taken Owensboro (Ky.) to consecutive state finals before coming to Model. Powers was coach at Westfield School in Perry for seven seasons in the 1980s and played in two GISA finals. His 20-year coaching record is 138-87-2. Hunnicutt's departure was tied to budget cuts and half-time employees. Powers had remained at Model after stepping down as head coach in '08.
*Greene County hired former Georgia star running back Robert Edwards to replace Charlie Winslette, who was 12-19 in three seasons. Edwards had been head coach of Arlington Christian in Fairburn and was 7-4 and 8-3 in two seasons. Edwards was a 1,000-yard rusher as a rookie with the New England Patriots in 1998, then made a comeback from a major knee injury and played eight seasons in the NFL and CFL. Greene has not won more than seven games in a season since the 1993 state championship except during the QB Josh Nesbitt era (2005-06).
*Rabun County hired Flowery Branch head coach Lee Shaw, a Rabun alumnus, to replace Danny Durham, who was 6-34 in four seasons. Shaw, the father of South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw and Georgia Southern quarterback Jaybo Shaw, was 79-41 at Flowery Branch, a program that he started in 2002. Shaw went 0-10 the first season but averaged more than 10 wins over the last seven. Rabun has not had a winning season since 2000 (6-4) or won a playoff game since 1998 (11-2).
*Riverside Military Academy hired Mount Pisgah offensive coordinator and former Atlanta Falcons player Gary Downs to replace Chris Cotter, who was 3-17 in two seasons. Downs was offensive coordinator for Riverside from 2004 to 2006. Riverside won a GISA state championship in '05. A Columbus native, Downs coached one season in NFL Europe. He was a special teams leader on the Falcons' 1998 NFC championship team. Riverside has suffered declining victory totals since joining the GHSA in 2008 and was 1-9 in 2011.
*Social Circle hired DeKalb County Schools athletics director Ron Sebree to replace David Seawright, who was 3-17 in two seasons. Sebree was a Social Circle assistant from 1981 to 1986, his first coaching job in Georgia, then joined the staff at Columbia in DeKalb County, where he was 55-54 in 11 seasons as head coach (1989-98). Sebree then entered administration for DeKalb schools. Social Circle last had a winning season in 2006 (6-5 under Ken Stoudenmire). Social Circle's only victory in 2011 was by forfeit.
Note: Armuchee made Preston Cash its official head coach after he served in the position on an interim basis since the fourth game of 2011.
Number of hires: 15
Best hire: Josh Kemp, Schley County
Hardest to replace: Kenny Dallas, Landmark Christian
Best job: Landmark Christian
Toughest job: Mount Zion
Most interesting: Kenny Dallas, coach of Class A runner-up Landmark Christian, got out of coaching. He took a job as head of campus ministry at a school in Tennessee.
*Mitchell County hired North Murray head coach Larry Cornelius to replace Dondrail Pinkins, who resigned to take an assistant's position at Valdosta. Cornelius started the North Murray program, which went 1-19 in two varsity seasons. Cornelius had been an assistant at Murray County and defensive coordinator at Randolph-Clay before going to North Murray.
*Lanier County promoted lines coach David Ward to replace Brent Miller, who was 6-4 in his only season. Lanier re-started its football program in 1997.
*Telfair County hired Johnson County assistant head coach Matt Burleson to replace Jeff Daffron, who was 1-19 in two seasons. Burleson was defensive coordinator at Johnson County (2008-11) and co-offensive coordinator at Glynn Academy (2004-07). He also coached a season at Wheeler and was a graduate assistant coach at both Georgia and Georgia Tech. Burleson's father, Gene, was a coach for 35 years in Florida. Telfair had a couple of winning seasons (2004, 2006) in recent years but has not won more than six games in a season since 1993 (12-1).
*Jenkins County hired Butler head coach Ashley Harden to replace Chris Mason, who was 1-9 in one season as interim coach. Harden was 15-6 the past two seasons at Butler after ending the school's 41-game losing streak. Harden will be Jenkins' third coach in three seasons. Mason, who had been hired from McIntosh County Academy, had suffered a stroke in June, and his job was filled in the interim by Charlie Waters. Jenkins County last had a winning season in 1999 (6-4).
*Montgomery County promoted defensive coordinator Eric McDonald to replace Greg Busby, who was 13-27 in four seasons. McDonald also is an assistant principal and the athletics director at the school. McDonald was an assistant at Treutlen (2002-07) before coming to Montgomery. McDonald grew up in Montgomery County but moved as a teenager and graduated from Dublin High. Montgomery County last had a winning season in 1989 (9-2) and was 1-9 last season.
*Brookstone hired Wesleyan offensive coordinator Brad Dehem to replace Blair Harrison, who took the head job at Kingston (Tenn.). Dehem had coached at his alma mater, First Presbyterian Day in Macon, before joining the Wesleyan staff in 2005. Brookstone was 73-28 in nine seasons under Harrison, 8-3 in 2011.
*Hawkinsville promoted offensive coordinator David Daniell to replace Cam Black, who was 21-21 in four seasons, 4-6 in 2011. Before coming to Hawkinsville, Daniell had coached at Westside (2000-07) and Windsor Academy (1990-99) in Macon and was head baseball coach at those schools. Hawkinsville has not won a playoff game since its five-year run of 2002-06 produced a 59-10-1 record and two state titles. Black is now on staff at Crisp County.
*Schley County promoted offensive coordinator Josh Kemp to replace Jim McFather, who was 40-54 in nine seasons. Kemp was head coach at Chattahoochee County, a program that he started in 2006, for four seasons and was 28-16, making the playoffs each year, before moving to Carver of Columbus to be the offensive coordinator on a team that featured Isaiah Crowell. Kemp is a graduate of Tri-County High, from which Schley County broke apart in 2000. Schley County was 5-5 in 2011. Its last winning season was 2008 (8-4).
*Landmark Christian promoted offensive coordinator Wayne Brantley to replace Kenny Dallas, who took a job as campus minister at Grace Christian Academy in Franklin, Tenn. Landmark reached the Class A final in 2011 (12-3). Landmark was 88-41 in Dallas's 11 seasons. Brantley, the school's athletics director, was head coach at Tuscaloosa Academy in Alabama from 2007 to 2010. He returned this past season to Landmark, where he had assisted Dallas for seven seasons before leaving for Alabama.
*Gordon Lee promoted assistant coach and former Notre Dame (Tenn.) head coach Charlie Wiggins to replace Kevin McElhaney, who resigned after going 28-26 in seven seasons. Wiggins was 44-33 at Notre Dame in Chattanooga and reached the Tennessee Class 3A semifinals twice before coming to Gordon Lee in 2010. Wiggins also has been an assistant at Maryville and Georgetown colleges. Wiggins is not the coach of the same name who was head coach at Pinecrest Academy in Georgia the past eight seasons. Gordon Lee was 4-6 each of the past two seasons and last had a playoff victory in 2007 (6-6).
*Mount Zion hired Bowdon offensive coordinator Keith Holloway to replace Bill Bailey, who was 14-66 in eight seasons. Bailey will remain as athletics director. Holloway is a 25-year assistant coach whose stops include Bowdon (2001-11), Central of Carroll County and Alexander. Holloway coached in 39 playoff games and has been a part of six region championship teams. Mount Zion has finished 0-10 each of the past two seasons.
*Trion hired backfield coach Justin Brown to replace David Humphreys, who was 17-25 in four seasons. Brown, a Trion graduate, has been an assistant at his alma mater the past five seasons. Brown also will be Trion's athletics director. Trion has been a middling program without a playoff win since a 12-2 finish in 2003 under Mark Loudermilk.
*Walker hired Whitefield Academy athletics director John East to replace Ben Williamson, who was 11-29 in four seasons. East did not coach football at Whitefield but assisted in several other sports. He has been a football assistant at Lovett and at schools in New Orleans during a coaching and sports administrative career that spans more than 25 years. Walker has finished 3-7 each of the past three seasons and never won a state playoff game since starting football in 2001.
*Twiggs County hired Wilkinson County offensive coordinator Jeb Stewart to replace Josh Lowe, who was 0-10 in one season. The son of former Southeast (Macon) head coach Jimmy Stewart, Jeb has been a coordinator on offense or defense at six schools - Montgomery County (1996-97), Crawford County (1998), Heard County (1999), Macon County (2000-02), Crawford County (2003-07) and Wilkinson (2008-11). He also coached at Camden County and Southeast. Stewart will be Twiggs' fourth coach since 2009, when the Cobras went 11-2. They've been 2-18 since.
*Pinecrest Academy hired North Park University (Ill.) offensive coordinator Todd Winter to replace Charlie Wiggins, who was 45-44-1 in eight seasons but 3-7 in two seasons in the GHSA after making the jump from the GISA. North Park is a Division III school in Chicago. Winter had been an assistant there the past two seasons. Winter also has been a head coach in high school at Johnsburg (Ill.), Anderson (Ind.), Ritenour (Mo.) and Oakview (Mo.).