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.
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