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 AAA.
Number of hires: 15
Best hire: Milan Turner, Thomson
Hardest to replace: Luther Welsh, Thomson
Best job: LaGrange
Toughest job: Haralson County
*Central of Carroll County hired Mary Persons offensive coordinator Grant Chesnut to replace Mike Ledford, who resigned after finishing 0-10 last season. Chesnut also has been an assistant at Camden County, Thomasville, Pickens and Presbyterian College. Chesnut is a former offensive lineman at Georgia Southern and played in the 1998 Division I-AA championship game. Central was 10-11 in Ledford's first two seasons, which followed an 0-10 finish in 2007, before reverting to a winless finish in 2010. Chesnut is one of two former Brookwood High players to be hired in the off-season. The other is Phillip Jones, hired by Banks County.
*Crisp County hired Dodge County coach Lee Campbell to replace Sean Pender, who left to become Pike County's head coach after only one season in Cordele. Campbell won state titles in 2003 and 2004 at Hawkinsville, his alma mater. Campbell, the brother of Peach County head coach Chad Campbell, was 10-20 at Dodge County. Crisp County was 4-7 last season and hasn't won more than seven games in a season since a 9-4 finish in 2001.
*Haralson County promoted offensive coordinator Alan Lane to replace David Harvey, who resigned after a 3-7 finish in his only season. An Alabama native, Lane has coached in Georgia for more than 20 years, mostly in south Georgia, with stops at Bryan County (head coach 1989-94), Coffee, Dodge County and Pierce County. Lane had joined Haralson County's staff last season from Cherokee, where he had worked for six seasons. Harvey is now an assistant coach at Wheeler in Marietta.
*Howard of Macon has hired Pike County assistant David Cape to replace Bobby Hughes, who resigned in April. Cape has been a head coach at Jones County (1996-97) and was an assistant on Washington County's 1994 state championship team. Cape played on the 1975 Central of Macon team that was the last Bibb County public school to win a state title. Hughes started the Howard program in 2008 and was 5-25 in three seasons.
*LaGrange promoted defensive coordinator Donnie Branch to replace Steve Pardue, who left to become an assistant at the University of Kentucky. Branch had been Pardue's defensive coordinator for 17 seasons, including the Class AAA championship years of 2001, 2003 and 2004. Branch has been an assistant at LaGrange since 1986 and head baseball coach since 1989, winning a state title in that sport in 2004. LaGrange was 161-45 under Pardue but slipped to 5-6 in 2010.
*Murray County promoted line coach and former defensive coordinator John Hammond to replace John Zeigler, who was 4-16 in two seasons. Hammond has coached at Murray County since 2002. Before that, he was an assistant for 11 seasons at Richlands (Va.). Hammond will be the fourth head coach in six seasons at a school that has gone 5-45 the past five seasons amid declining enrollment with the opening of new schools.
*North Atlanta hired Booker T. Washington coach Stanley Pritchett to replace Brian Montgomery, who took the same position at Shiloh in Gwinnett County. Pritchett, a former Falcons player, was 19-13 in three seasons at Washington. North Atlanta was 16-14 in three seasons under Montgomery and 7-3 in 2010, marking its best three-year stretch in school history.
*North Springs hired former Army major, coach and recruiter Todd Powers to replace Charles Parks, who was 4-36 in four seasons. Powers has a unique background among Georgia's head coaches as he is a retired Army major who coached Army's sprint football team (players must weigh 172 pounds or less) in 2006. He was a recruiting commander in Marietta from 2007 to 2009. In the past academic year, Powers headed North Springs' Army ROTC program, a role in which he will continue. He has been a baseball assistant coach at North Springs, a north Fulton County school.
*Spalding hired Riverdale coach and Spalding County native Nick Davis to replace Clint Ashmore, who resigned in November. Davis, a Griffin High alumnus, has been a coach at Burke County (1999-2001), Columbia (2003), Riverdale (2004-05, 2008-2010) and Shiloh (2006-07). His record is 47-67-1. Ashmore was 12-19 in his three seasons at a school that hasn't had a winning season since the 12-2 finish of 2003.
*Thomson hired Milan Turner, who won a state title at ECI in 2007, to replace the late Luther Welsh, the 333-game winner who retired at age 79. Turner's record was 65-12 at ECI in six seasons, and the '07 state title was the school's first. Turner had been an assistant at Screven County, Southeast Bulloch, Fitzgerald and Warner Robins before taking the ECI job. Welsh, who began his head coaching career at Warrenton in 1955, won state titles at Thomson in 1984, 1985 and 2002. Welsh passed away in July.
*Walnut Grove of Walton County hired Grayson offensive coordinator O.J. Soto to replace Harris Rainbow, who started the Walton County program in 2009 and resigned for personal and family reasons. Soto, a Walton County native and Loganville graduate, has been an assistant at Monticello, Lamar County and Loganville. He had been Grayson's offensive coordinator the past three seasons, during which the Rams were 35-6 running Soto's Wing-T offense. Rainbow resigned unexpectedly in November, citing his parents' health problems, and later took the head coaching job at Campbell in Cobb County.
*Washington of Atlanta hired North Clayton head coach Rodney Hackney to replace Stanley Pritchett, who took the head job at North Atlanta. Hackney was 29-7 in three seasons at North Clayton, which experienced its best three-year run since the 1960s. Hackney will be the only head coach who has been at seven schools the past decade. A graduate of Atlanta's Mays High, Hackney also has coached at Riverdale (2001-03), Osborne (2004), Mays (2005) and Lithonia (2006-07). Hackney is 55-56 for his career, or 63-48 not counting forfeit losses from 2002. Washington was 19-12 in three seasons under Pritchett.
*West Laurens hired Bleckley County assistant Stacy Nobles, its fourth head coach in four seasons, to replace Chad Simmons, who resigned. Nobles coached at West Laurens for two seasons (2006-07) before going to Bleckley. He was an assistant at Villa Rica from 2001 to 2005. Nobles is a Laurens County native and graduate of Trinity Christian in Dublin. He was an All-America player at Liberty University. West Laurens was 4-6 last season under Simmons, who originally left to join Milan Turner's staff at Thomson, then changed his mind and got out of coaching. West Laurens' only winning season since 2000 was a 6-5 finish in 2005.
*White County hired Peachtree Ridge coach Bill Ballard to replace interim coach Tommy Flowers. Ballard, a DeKalb County native, was 36-14 in four seasons at Peachtree Ridge, where he took the team to the 2008 final and lost to Camden County. Ballard is 89-22 in nine seasons overall. He's one of the few coaches to take two schools, including Tukcer in 2003, to the state semifinals in the past 10 years. Flowers helped lead White County to its first nine-win season since 1980 after Gregg Segraves resigned in midseason. Flowers was expected to remain at the school as an assistant.
*Woodward Academy of College Park hired John Hunt, a former SEC assistant coach under Steve Spurrier at Florida and South Carolina, to replace Mark Miller. Hunt most recently had been an assistant in Florida at New Smyrna and Suwanee high schools. He was a line coach at South Carolina form 2005 to 2008 and also coached on Florida's staff in 1999 and 2000. In between college stops, he was a high school head coach at Buchholz and Dr. Phillips in Florida. Woodward was 41-25 in six seasons under Miller, who left to be head coach at Strong Rock Academy.