Eight new football coaches in Class AAAAA

There were 66 head coaches hired by GHSA schools over the off-season. This week, MaxPreps GHSF Daily looks at each of them class by class, starting with AAAAA.


Number of hires: Eight
Best hire: Brian Montgomery, Shiloh
Hardest to replace: Bill Ballard, Peachtree Ridge
Best job: Peachtree Ridge
Toughest job: Benedictine

*Benedictine of Savannah hired Calvary Day defensive coordinator Danny Britt to replace Mark Stroud, who resigned to pursue a doctorate in education. Britt had been at Calvary Day for the past 13 years and was head coach there from 2001 to 2005 and had a 32-22 record before stepping back to be an assistant. Stroud, who was 6-15 in two seasons, remains at the Savannah military school as an assistant principal. Benedictine was 1-9 last season after choosing to play up in Class AAAAA despite AA enrollment.

*Campbell of Smyrna hired Walnut Grove head coach Harris Rainbow to replace T.K. Dodd, who was 3-17 in two seasons and forced to resign in March. Rainbow, a graduate of nearby Wheeler High in Marietta, left Walnut Grove to be closer to his family. Rainbow’s eight-season record is 26-52, all in building situations – Walnut Grove (2009-10), Worth County (2006-08) and Riverwood (2003-05).

*Dacula hired North Forsyth coach Jared Zito to replace Kevin Maloof, who retired for health reasons. Zito was 18-24 in four seasons at North Forsyth but 17-15 in his final three seasons at a program that was 1-9 before he arrived. Zito was 15-27 at Spruce Creek (Fla.) before coming to Georgia in 2006 to be the offensive coordinator at Etowah. Maloof was 150-77 at Dacula. His final team was 6-4 last season and was the only team to defeat eventual Class AAAAA champion Brookwood.

*Milton hired Pope defensive coordinator and associate head coach Howie DeCristofaro to replace Scott Walker, who resigned for health and family reasons. DeCristofaro has been a head coach in Florida at St. Edward’s, DeLand, Gaither, Manatee and New Smyrna Beach. He led St. Edward’s to the state final in 1989. He came to Georgia in 2007 to be an assistant at Etowah before joining Pope’s staff. Milton was 24-27 under Walker with a peak finish of 8-3 in 2008. Milton has not had a better finish since 1980.

*North Forsyth hired Banks County head coach Blair Armstrong to replace Jared Zito, who left for the Dacula job. Armstrong has won state titles at Peachtree Ridge (2006) and Jefferson County, Fla. (1981). A Florida native, Armstrong was 19-22 at Banks County, which had not had a winning season since 1997 until the 7-3 finish of 2010. North Forsyth made the playoffs the past two seasons under Zito and was 5-6 in 2010. The school was AAA as recently as 2001, when it made the state semifinals.

*Peachtree Ridge of Gwinnett County promoted offensive coordinator Mark Fleetwood to replace Bill Ballard, who took the head job at White County. Fleetwood, a star player at Atlanta’s Lakeside High in the late 1970s and then at South Carolina, has spent most of his coaching career in college at stops that include Jacksonville State, Troy, Citadel and Chattanooga. He was head coach at Habersham Central (1995-96) and defensive coordinator at Cartersville (2007-09) before coming to Peachtree Ridge. Ballard was 36-14 in his four seasons. Peachtree Ridge was 6-4 in 2010.

*Roswell promoted offensive coordinator Justin Sanderson to replace Leo Barker, who was 22-12 in three seasons. Sanderson has been a Roswell assistant since 2003 and was a member of the 2006 staff that won a Class AAAAA championship. Roswell has hired each of its past 10 head coaches from its staff, a tradition that dates to the 1950s. Barker resigned in February because of his wife’s job transfer to California. Roswell was 7-5 last season.

*Shiloh of Snellville hired North Atlanta head coach Brian Montgomery to replace Keith Wilkes, who resigned after a 1-9 finish. Montgomery, a former Banneker player, was 16-14 at North Atlanta in what was the best three-year run in school history. The team was 7-3 last season and graduated 10 players who signed college scholarships. Wilkes was 9-21 at the Snellville school, which hasn’t had a playoff victory or all-state player since David Pollack starred on the 2000 team.

Longest-tenured coaches

Most consecutive seasons at one school in Class AAAAA:

19 – Cecil Flowe, Parkview

18 – Jim Walsh, Bradwell Institute

16 – Ron Gartrell, Stephenson

13 – Ulysses Hawthorne, Beach

13 – Keith Maloof, Norcross

12 – Jeff Herron, Camden County

12 – Mickey Conn, Grayson

11 – Brian Dameron, Cherokee

10 – Mark Crews, Brookwood

10 – Randy McPherson, Lowndes

24 comments Add your comment


August 1st, 2011
12:11 am


August 1st, 2011
10:11 am

What’s the deal with Peachtree Ridge? It seems to be a fairly successful program…but there last 2 coaches appear to have bolted for rural schools in Banks and White County HS, respectively? That doesn’t seem right…


August 1st, 2011
10:12 am

What is wrong at Peachtree Ridge High School? Blair Armstrong leaves after winning the co-title in 06. Bill Ballard leaves after 4 winning seasons? An ole South Georgia country boy like me would think something behind the scenes is taking place when a AAAAA team in a good strategic location that has enjoyed “some” success and who receives lots of press and media love can’t keep its head coach. PeaRidge, one of the two Gwinnett County “Darlings of the AJC” is ranked every year near the top of AAAAA. What is wrong?


August 1st, 2011
10:40 am

The parents drive these coaches out… Seen it twice now with Armstrong and Ballard.. But Ballard was a bone head… had some of the best talent in the state but produce mediocre results. Its about touchdown club there.. over the last year alot of players have transferred to several schools in the area due to good ole Ballard. For example, He had the Bott twins.. great size, pretty good football IQ… and get this, 4 year starters…. so how do they only get a a scholarship offer to Lenior Rhyne.. WHAT?? I don’t even know where that is.. He got no support from the parents because the parents didn’t like how he ran the program. You put juniors on the JV team that actually can play varsity and you don’t pay attention to the younger class until they’re senior year. Parents don’t go for that, especially when your child does have talent and they bust there butt at practice everyday. If you dig a little deeper and look at Ballard at Tucker.. Tucker always had talent and potential to win state every year. So way is that Ballard never won one there but the year he left they win a state championship the next year. And from what I have heard from some Tucker parents, If you were in his circle you were good.. I could go on for days but Ballard couldnt handle the pressure of a being coach of the Ridge.. there is no way you don’t make the playoffs last year starting 5-0 beat McEachern, Newnan, Roswell and lose to some of the bottom feeders of the region. Bad play calling, no coaching kids up, keeping your program moral high (Parents, Players, etc) they should have beat Camden in the state finals a couple years back… passing the ball late in the fourth quarter with the lead.. and your RB has been punishing them.. a year later losing to northside warner robins in the fourth quarter up 10 – 0… not using all your players… making them play both sides of the ball.. that late in a game fatigue does set in..they had some pretty good depth that year.. He wasn’t a good coach at all.. was just placed with a team that had talent .. but didnt know how to use his pieces effectively.. word on the street is that Fleetwood does not have control of the program now.. some of the players are undisciplined and having issues with there academics.. so if that continues.. he will leave as well…


August 1st, 2011
12:38 pm

I wish someone parent, principal,teachers,janitor,hall monitor,or even Jerry Jones(Dallas Cowboys Owner)somebody , anybody, everybody would come to Mays and drive Calloway Out!!! HELP


August 1st, 2011
4:02 pm

Parkview will run away with it all this year.


August 1st, 2011
4:03 pm

The rams will win it all this year. No doubt about it, we will ram it all the way.


August 1st, 2011
6:37 pm

south ga went 1-4 last year in championships , this year we want it all. GO CANES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Stop Hating

August 1st, 2011
9:41 pm

Cmon amaysing are u kiddin me. You are talking like Mays have had just decades of being good in football. They’ve been good recently but before that they were mediocre with a few stretches of good years which were far apart. Mays has been highly competitive and a lot due to Calloway being in the program. Take a look at some of the other facilities and resources of other schools around the state and you’ll see why APS teams don’t compete well in the playoffs. Not to mention the number of coaches other staffs have. Mays is lucky to have Calloway. It kills me when people won’t give a dime to assist a program but are the first to criticize. If you feel that strongly how about helping raise money so that Mays can get additional coaches on their staff like they do at the Tucker’s, Gwinnett schools, and South Georgia.

Scholarships and Championships

August 2nd, 2011
7:36 am

WPI, JV football is made up of Juniors and Sophmores. A lot of programs are run that way. Just because a parent thinks that their kids have talent, does not necessarily mean that is the case. As far as kids playing both ways, this occurs in a lot of programs as well. You always want your best talent on the field. Some kids are gifted athletes. Sometimes you have to match your opponent. If that means your receivers have to play some Dback,safety or corner and it will keep you in the game, so be it. That PTR/Camden game, Camden had teo way players on special teams, Offense and Defense, Why? Sacrifice to win the game. Most prolific programs practice players on offense and defense as well as special teams. It’s up to the young players to get involved, make a statement at practice, put in extra time, take someone’s spot. The players have to take some responsibility. So Armstrong and Ballard left.


August 2nd, 2011
9:45 am

@WPI your running back didn’t punish Camden, he had one good run play. Its not like herron called the best game of his life either that day!!!


August 2nd, 2011
11:15 am

We wil we will RAM you. We will we will RAM you. Learn to love it.


August 2nd, 2011
11:21 am

Go over to http://www.atlantasportsavenue.com to talk about Metro Atlanta prep football. Select Forum on the home page.


August 2nd, 2011
4:26 pm

well FOOTBALL is back baby…………hey blackgold and jefferson who is going to get 2nd this year????? our program should be a lot better this year….. lots of luck to your respected teams.


August 2nd, 2011
11:06 pm

Go Camden County Wildcats! Fear the Paw, kick butt!


August 3rd, 2011
11:52 am

Well I have been out of the loop for awhile, but as it pertained to Armstrong and Ballard at Peachtree Ridge, it is up to the coaches to stand up to parents and explain how their program works in order to get their support. But then the coaches need to follow up and be true to what they communicated. When they are not, this is what causes parents to become hostile. If you talked the talk, you must walk the talk. This not only garner support from the parents, but also allegiance and commitment from the players. They all know what to expect. The new coach should set the communication process for parents and also set the tone for the ongoing Parent-Coach relationship. This would prevent this notion that parents are running coaches away, they just need to be coaches with some conviction and have a couple of those other things.

Ron Hyatt

August 3rd, 2011
10:39 pm

All I know for sure is that if it were anything but Feetbrawl, 2 deaths in a week would have already led to a Federal ban.


August 5th, 2011
4:16 pm

Ron Gartrell of Stephenson needs to retire. Stephenson will lead the NATION with 17 D-1 and another 14 or more to sign at a lower level this year. Trust me, Stephenson will loose in the first round of the play-off again.

Gartrell states he prefers to put kids in college than win a title – BS…. BuggsBunny can coach these kids and win 8 – 10 games and loose in the first round of the play-offs. The kids get scholarships because they are exceptional skilled players.

The following coaches has far less talent but have won more than one State Championship GO FIGURE! 12 – Jeff Herron, Camden County, 10 – Mark Crews, Brookwood, 10 – Randy McPherson, Lowndes

Coffee Trojan Fan

August 5th, 2011
8:19 pm

Excitement is already building in Coffee County for this years team,dont rule us out this year of any thing,”Go Trojans Go”,visitors better watch out because the home stands is gonna be behind our Trojans also,I am ready for some Coffee Football


August 6th, 2011
9:28 am

If Tift County doesn’t improve this season, it’s head coach should be on this list next year. The last several years have not been overly successful for the Devils given the talent that was available.


August 7th, 2011
10:10 pm


I’ve always liked and respected the “Ridge”. Being down last year, I could only hope that they do well this year.


August 7th, 2011
10:12 pm

In Class AAAAA this year, Soth Georgia will do well this year vs North Georgia Teams. :-)


August 7th, 2011
10:29 pm


I ws told that Bradwell Institute is a very much imprpved Team this year that has depth, size, and a lot of speed. I am cautiously optimistic. In that Region, (3-AAAAA) the only measurable team in the Region will only be Camden County. If they do well against them, then and only then will I admit to it.


August 23rd, 2012
9:05 am

salam saite khobi dari jone madaret mohtbegsaae tna ham bezar onam bakhshi az koshtikaje hulk hogen jeff hardy toshan daset dard nakone felan