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Georgia High School Football Daily -08/03/12

August 9, 2012
By Calvin Scandrett of Lamar County Trojans


Top 10 head coaching hires since 2000

GHSF Daily has chronicled the 77 offseason coaching hires this week and speculated on which ones might have the biggest impacts on their new schools.


If they're lucky, they'll have the success of the 10 listed below. These are perhaps the 10 best head coaching hires in Georgia since 2000:


*Donald Chumley, Savannah Christian (2005) - Savannah Christian won seven state titles in the GISA during the 1970s and 1980s but managed only one playoff victory (1989) in 17 seasons after joining the GHSA in 1988. Chumley is 77-14 in eight seasons and got the Class A title last year. A former Georgia player, Chumley worked four years at a paper company in Savannah before deciding he wanted to be a coach. He assisted at Benedictine for 11 seasons before coming to Savannah Christian in 2004 as defensive coordinator.


*Jeff Herron, Camden County (2000) - The 1999 state title at Oconee County, Herron's fourth school in 12 seasons, got the attention of Camden, a school that had a history of being pretty good, but never great. That's changed now. In 12 seasons under Herron, Camden is 143-13 with three state titles.


*Chip Lindsey, Lassiter (2008) - It was Jep Irwin in 2011 who took Lassiter to its first state semifinal, but one wonders if Lassiter would still be Cobb County's most consistently mediocre program if Lindsey hadn't changed the culture three years before. Lindsey, a former head coach in Alabama, changed the offense from a veer to the spread, and Lassiter blew away most of the state's passing records with quarterback Hutson Mason. The Trojans went 9-3, its first nine-win season, then 12-1 while winning the school's first region title. Lindsey left for Troy University and now is head coach at Spain Park in Alabama.


*Dell McGee, Carver (2005) - Carver of Columbus hadn't had a winning season in nine years when it hired McGee, who went 3-7 in his first season. Carver is 74-10 since with a state title in 2007. McGee was a Columbus native who played at Auburn and then the NFL. Carver was his first head coaching job.


*Randy McPherson, Lowndes (2002) - Lowndes had won state titles in 1980 and 1999, but it would take a special coach to take the program to the next level. Lowndes got it in McPherson, who had won a state title at Madison County (Fla.) in 2001. Lowndes won Class AAAAA titles in 2004, 2005 and 2007 and is 106-22 under McPherson playing in perhaps the state's toughest region.


*Bruce Miller, Gainesville (2002) - Gainesville was a state contender for decades until the 1990s, when it failed to win a playoff game for the decade. Miller, who managed only one winning season in his first 11 as a head coach, had just made a name for himself by taking 8-year-old North Forsyth to the Class AAA semifinals. Under Miller, Gainesville is 106-21 in 10 seasons with 17 playoff wins and one state finals appearance (2009).


*Rush Propst, Colquitt County (2008) - Colquitt was a state power in the 1990s but had fallen on mediocre times when it hired Propst, the coach made famous by the MTV Series "Two A Days." Propst had won five state titles at Hoover High in Alabama. Colquitt has reached the semifinals or better each of the past three seasons in Class AAAAA.


*John Reid, East Paulding (2006) - East Paulding had suffered 0-10 or 1-9 seasons eight times in 15 years before hiring Reid, who won two state titles in Tennessee. Reid brought other former head coaches to be on his staff and was 12-2 in his first season - winning more games than East had won in its previous five seasons combined. Those ex-coaches didn't stay, but Reid kept winning. He was 60-15 in six seasons, then hired by Tift County this offseason.


*Bob Sphire, North Gwinnett (2006) - North Gwinnett had played 44 seasons without a region championship until hiring Sphire, who had won a state championship at Lexington Catholic in Kentucky. Sphire is 67-11 in seven seasons, and North Gwinnett has three Region 7-AAAAA trophies in its case now. Sphire also has placed North Gwinnett on a national stage with annual games against widely known out-of-state opponents.


*Franklin Stephens, Tucker (2007) - Tucker has been blessed with outstanding teams and coaches through the years, but none had taken the Tigers to a state title. Stephens, hired from Camden County, won two - 2008 and 2011. Tucker was Stephens' first head coaching job. He left Tucker this offseason for Lamar County.


Washaun Ealey, the former ECI running back, transferred to Jacksonville State from Georgia and rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season. We reported his current school incorrectly in Thursday's edition.

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In This Issue
Spotlight: Top 10 head coaching hires since 2000
List: Longest-tenured coaches in AA, A
Trivia: Georgia's coaching brothers
New Coaches: AA, A


Stability at the top

These are the longest-tenured coaches in AA and A (the numbers of seasons listed include 2012):


Class AA

Dwight Hochstetler (Bowdon) - 25

Gerry Romberg (Westminster) - 21

Jimmie Lewis (Harlem) - 17

Hal Lamb (Calhoun) - 14

Ricky Tolleson (Bremen) - 13

Trey Woolf (Early Co.) - 12

Tim Barron (Heard Co.) - 11

Roger Holmes (Dublin) - 11

Tony Byram (Crawford Co.) - 10

Greg Oglesby (Manchester) - 10


Class A

Larry Campbell (Lincoln Co.) - 41

Rich McWhorter (Charlton Co.) - 23

Michael Gunn (Athens Acad.) - 22

Don Williams (George Walton) - 19

James Hagins (Wilkinson Co.) - 17

John Williams (Calhoun Co.) - 15

Vincent Huff (Terrell Co.) - 14

Greg Moore (First Presbyterian) - 13

Mark Ledford (Wilcox Co.) - 12

Tommy Atha (Darlington) - 11

Chris Kelley (Glascock Co.) - 11


Georgia has at least three sets of brothers who are head coaches. Who are they? (Answer Monday)


Answer to Thursday's question: The two Georgia coaches who are on target to get their 300th career victories this season are Alan Chadwick of Marist (299) and Robby Pruitt of Coffee (293).

New Coaches: AA, A

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.


Class AA

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.


Region 1

*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.


Region 3

*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.


Region 4

*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.


Region 5

*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).


Region 6

*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.


Region 7

*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.


Region 8

*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.


Class A

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.


Region 1

*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.


Region 2

*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).


Region 3

*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.


Region 4

*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).


Region 5

*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.


Region 6

*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.


Region 7

*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.


Region 8

*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.).

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