There were 67 head coaches hired by GHSA schools over the off-season. This week, MaxPreps GHSF Daily looks at each of them class by class, continuing today with AAAA.
Number of hires: 15
Best hire: Mike Falleur, Villa Rica
Hardest to replace: Rodney Hackney, North Clayton
Best job: North Clayton
Toughest job: Osborne
*Banneker of Atlanta promoted offensive coordinator Tony Slaton to replace Ed Gosa, who stepped down for health reasons and remained at the school as assistant athletics director. Slaton also was the offensive coordinator at Westlake from 2004 to 2007, when he became a coach and mentor for Heisman Trophy winner Cameron Newton. A former quarterback for Morris Brown, Slaton has coached at Tri-Cities (1998-2001) and a previous stint at Banneker (2002-03). This is his first head coaching job. Banneker was 18-13 overall and 5-5 last season under Gosa.
*Cedar Shoals of Athens promoted offensive coordinator L'Dreco Thomas as the interim coach to replace Xarvia Smith, who was fired before taking the same job at Osborne in Marietta. Thomas also is Cedar Shoals' head boys basketball coach. Cedar Shoals originally hired its defensive coordinator, Don Hudson, in February from about 90 candidates, but Hudson stepped down unexpectedly in June. Thomas is a Cedar Shoals graduate who has coached 12 seasons at his alma mater. Cedar Shoals was 14-18 in three seasons under Smith.
*Fayette County hired Clark-Atlanta University assistant Mike Davis to replace Tommy Webb, who retired after 12 seasons as a head coach, the last eight at Fayette. Davis had been a head coach at Bayside and Heritage high schools in Florida and was an assistant at Carson-Newman, where he earlier had played on an NAIA national championship team. Fayette County was 23-61 under Webb, who is now the defensive coordinator at Strong Rock Christian in Henry County.
*Forest Park hired Locust Grove offensive coordinator Edmund Coley to replace JaJuan Wright, who was 2-8 in one season and forced out in December. Coley, a former South Cobb High quarterback who played on national championship teams at Georgia Southern, was an assistant at Dunwoody for four years and Alexander for three. Forest Park has had seven head coaches and no winning seasons in the past 10 years. Those seven coaches don't include Nick Mrvos, who was hired last year but told his teaching position was lost in budget cuts, which led to the last-minute hire of the relatively inexperienced Wright, who was already on staff.
*Lakeside of Atlanta hired Miller Grove middle school coach Marcus Mitchell to replace Thomas Cox. Mitchell coached several years in his native Ohio, including time at Westerville High and Ashland University (his alma mater), before coming to Georgia in 2006. He was an assistant coach on Miller Grove's dominant middle school program for four seasons while working at Henderson Middle, a Lakeside feeder school. Lakeside was 4-6 last year and 6-14 overall under Cox, who is now on staff at Apalachee in Barrow County. Lakeside has had one winning season (6-4 in 2003) since famed DeKalb County coach Phil Lindsey stepped down after the 1997 season.
*Lithia Springs promoted Scott Dean to replace Steve Horton, who was 13-37 in five seasons. Dean, a 1990 graduate of Lithia Springs, was an assistant at his alma mater for six seasons and helped coach the middle school teams for several years before that. Lithia Springs was 5-5 last season, only its second non-losing season in 25 years. Horton, whose resignation was voluntary, transferred to a middle school and hopes to pursue an administrative job. He endorsed Dean early for the job, though the hire didn't take place until June.
*McIntosh of Fayette County promoted defensive coordinator Lee Belknap to replace Glenn Griffin, who retired from Fayette County schools. Belknap ran defenses at McIntosh the past three seasons. He was an assistant at Starr's Mill for nine seasons. McIntosh, which has not had a winning season since 1995, was 8-22 in three seasons under Griffin.
*New Manchester, a new school in Douglas County, hired Villa Rica head coach Rob Cleveland in February to start its football program. Cleveland was 31-20 in his five seasons at Villa Rica and was an assistant for two years before being promoted. The school opens in August and will play a non-region schedule as a member of Region 5-AAAA South.
*North Clayton promoted defensive coordinator Max Wiltz to replace Rodney Hackney, who took the head job at Washington of Atlanta. Wiltz has been on Hackney's staff the past 10 seasons at six schools. Wiltz's defenses the past three seasons during a 29-7 run have been led by all-state and now SEC linebackers Amarlo Herrera and Clarence Jackson.
*Northwest Whitfield promoted defensive coordinator Josh Robinson to replace Mike Falleur, who left to become head coach and athletics director at Villa Rica. Robinson, a 1999 graduate of rival Southeast Whitfield, has been on Northwest Whitfield's staff the past eight years, five as defensive coordinator. Falleur posted a 58-37 overall mark at Northwest and took the program to the Class AAAA playoffs four times.
*Osborne of Marietta hired Xarvia Smith, let go as Cedar Shoals' head coach, to replace Keary Dias, who was 1-9 in one season as interim coach. Smith has been an assistant coach for 10 years in Cobb County, serving as defensive coordinator at Pebblebrook and McEachern. He was 14-18 at Cedar Shoals (2008-10) and 3-17 at Centennial (2005-06). Osborne has finished 3-7 or worse each season since 1994. Dias was given the job late last summer when Troy Jones resigned unexpectedly.
*Paulding County promoted defensive coordinator Scott Hamilton to replace Brent Miller, who took the head job at Lanier County. Hamilton, a McEachern graduate, has been a head coach with stops at Mount Zion (1999-2001) and Woodland of Cartersville (2005-06). His best work might've been a 6-6 finish in 2001 at Mount Zion, which hasn't exceeded that win total or won a playoff game since. Paulding County has not had a winning season since 2003.
*Riverdale hired Carver of Columbus defensive coordinator Olten Downs to replace Nick Davis, who took the Spalding job. Downs, 27, coached at Carver the past five seasons, during which the Columbus school's record was 62-8. Downs played on Shaw's 2000 state championship team and later for Tennessee State. Aside from his top-rated defenses, Downs is known for helping get his players recruited. More than 20 Carver players signed scholarships this year. Riverdale was 2-8 last season. Its last winning season was 2006 (7-3).
*Villa Rica hired Northwest Whitfield coach Mike Falleur to replace Rob Cleveland, who left to start the program at New Manchester in Douglas County. Falleur is 142-70 in 21 seasons as a head coach. He has taken Burke County (1997) and Tucker (1994) to the state semifinals. Villa Rica was 31-20 under Cleveland but hasn't won a playoff game since 1998.
*Woodland of Cartersville hired Vince DiLorenzo to replace Steve Hamilton, who was 13-27 in four seasons. DiLorenzo won state titles in Alabama at Gadsden (1986, 1991) and later started the program at Spain Park in Hoover, Ala., and went 24-20 there. DiLorenzo has spent the past five seasons at Coosa Valley Academy in Harpersville, Ala., two as a head coach, and was 8-4 and 11-2. DiLorenzo's record in 24 seasons as a head coach is 170-89. Woodland has had one winning season (1999) in its 13-year history.