New coaches in Class AAAAAA: Region 1 loaded with multiple championship winners

There were 82 head coaches hired by GHSA schools in the off-season. This week, GHSF Daily looks at each new coach, beginning today with AAAAAA and AAAAA.


Number of hires: 14

Best hire: Robby Pruitt, Coffee

Hardest to replace: Bill Stewart, Etowah

Best job: Tift County

Toughest job: Morrow

Most interesting: With Tift County and Coffee making high-profile hires, Region 1-AAAAAA has six head coaches with multiple state championships. They are Robby Pruitt at Coffee (seven), John Reid at Tift (two), Randy McPherson at Lowndes (four), Rance Gillespie at Valdosta (two), Jeff Herron at Camden County (four) and Rush Propst at Colquitt County (five).

Region 1

*Coffee hired Fitzgerald coach Robby Pruitt to replace Ken Eldridge, who was 21-24 in four seasons. Pruitt won a state-record seven state championships in Florida at Jacksonville University Christian and Union County before coming Fitzgerald in 2000. Pruitt’s overall record is 293-55-1. He was 120-21-1 in 12 seasons at Fitzgerald. Coffee has suffered three consecutive losing seasons after three nine-win seasons from 2006 to 2008.

*Tift County hired East Paulding coach John Reid to replace Jay Walls, who was 44-34 in seven seasons. Reid won two state titles in Tennessee before coming to chronic-loser East Paulding in 2005. Reid was 60-15 at East Paulding and made the state quarterfinals or better four times. Tift reached the AAAAA semifinals in 2006 under Walls but was 11-19 the past three seasons.

Region 2

*Morrow still has no head coach. The school had named Sumter Central (Ala.) head coach Andre Pickering to replace interim head coach James Livingston, but Pickering didn’t get a contract because of budget cuts. Morrow, the Class AAAA champion in 1987, has finished 0-10 or 1-9 in six of its past eight seasons.

*Rockdale County hired Peachtree Ridge assistant Venson Elder in June after a rocky off-season that saw 2011 head coach Michael Etheridge fired and his original replacement, Mario Allen, dismissed. Allen denied allegations of recruiting and off-season practice violations. Elder is an Atlanta native and former University of Alabama player in his first head coaching job after 23 seasons as an assistant. Rockdale was 1-9 last season, just two years after a historic run to the Class AAAA quarterfinals, the program’s best finish. Rockdale will return to the highest classification for the first time since 1995.

Region 3

*Douglas County hired Howard offensive coordinator Jason Respert, a former standout player at Northside (Warner Robins) and the University of Tennessee. Respert had been an assistant coach at Northside (2005-06), Peach County (2007) and Howard (2008-11). He was on the Northside staff during its 2006 state championship team. Douglas County has not had a winning season since 2007 (8-3), the first under John Oglesby, who was 23-28. Douglas County will be playing in the highest classification for the first time since 2001.

*Westlake hired North Atlanta head coach Stanley Pritchett to replace Greg Minnis, who was 20-21 in four seasons. Pritchett, a former Atlanta Falcons player, was 2-7 in one season at North Atlanta and 19-13 in three seasons at Booker T. Washington. Westlake last won a playoff game in 2006 under Dallas Allen, who was coach of several future NFL players, including 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Cameron Newton.

Region 4

*Harrison of Kennesaw hired longtime NFL assistant coach Marty Galbraith to replace David Hines. Galbraith, 62, has been a coach for 40 seasons and had stops at Georgia Tech, Purdue, Wake Forest, LSU, Pittsburgh, Marshall and N.C. State. For the past seven seasons, he was an assistant with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. From 1995 to 1997, after leaving Tech, he was head coach at Lassiter in Marietta and was 19-11 in three seasons. Hines, now an assistant at North Paulding, was 22-21 in four seasons. Harrison had been 125-58 and reached the Class AAAAA final in 2000 under Bruce Cobleigh, for whom the football stadium is now named. Cobleigh, who retired after the 2007 season, will return as an assistant coach. In 2011, Harrison finished 3-7, its worst record since 1993.

*Kennesaw Mountain hired Lee County defensive coordinator Andy Scott to replace Chad McGehee, who was 1-19 in two seasons. Kennesaw Mountain has had two winning seasons (6-4 in 2005 and 2006) and no playoff berths since opening in 2000. Scott, 42, was head coach at Perry from 2005 to 2009 with a record of 27-29. His 2007 team reached the Class AAA quarterfinals. He was defensive coordinator at Walnut Grove in 2010. He also has been an assistant at Warren County in Tennessee, Troup and Coffee.

*Pebblebrook promoted defensive coordinator Tommy Macon to replace Randall Smith, who was 17-23 in four seasons. It will be the fifth head coaching job for Macon, who has been at Tompkins (1984-88), Savannah (1989-93), Josey (1997-01) and Southwest Macon (2002-06). Macon’s record is 65-138-2, but he is the last coach to achieve 10-win seasons and playoff victories at Josey (1999) and Savannah (1993). Pebblebrook had made the playoffs in nine of 12 seasons under Michael Collins and Chuck Stines but has failed since 2008, when the Cobb County school moved to the highest classification.

Region 5

*Cherokee hired Etowah’s top assistant coach, Josh Shaw, who coordinated special teams and strength and conditioning and coached defensive backs for five seasons at his previous job under Bill Stewart. Shaw had coached for eight years at East Ridge High in Clermont, Fla., and West River State and Moorhead State universities. Cherokee was 57-64 in 11 seasons under Brian Dameron, including 10-win seasons in 2002 and 2003. Cherokee was 1-9 in 2011, its fourth consecutive losing season.

*Etowah hired Dave Svehla, head coach of Gridley High in El Paso, Ill., to replace Bill Stewart, who won three region titles in his six seasons. Svehla is a Nebraska native with head coaching experience at Gridley (2010-11), Raymond Central in Nebraska (2006-10) and Lincoln Northeast in Nebraska (1999-2006). Svehla’s teams have made the playoffs eight times and made one state semifinal. Svehla is in the athletics hall of fame at Northwest Missouri State. Stewart left to become head coach and athletics director at James Clemens High in Madison, Ala.

Region 6

*Centennial hired Alpharetta defensive coordinator Jeff Carlberg to replace Jeff Meason, who was 24-28 the past five seasons, including 5-6 in 2011. Carlberg was defensive coordinator at Lassiter in 2008 and 2009. His teams at Lassiter and Alpharetta won region titles for the first time in those schools’ histories. Carlberg was a head coach for three seasons at Apollo in Owensboro, Ky. He’s also a former defensive coordinator at Lexington (Ky.) Catholic, where he worked under current North Gwinnett head coach Bob Sphire. He was a graduate assistant at Louisville under Howard Schnellenberger. Centennial last won a playoff game in 2002. Measor resigned to complete a doctorate.

Region 7

*Mountain View promoted defensive coordinator Doug Giacone to replace Tim Hardy, who left to take the head job at Greater Atlanta Christian. Mountain View has finished 2-8 and 3-7 in its only full seasons. Giacone, 35, has been on the staff from the start. His other coaching stops include Riverside Military Academy (2008), Grayson (2005-07), Georgia Southern (2001-04) and his alma mater, Millikin University (1999-2000).

Region 8

*Shiloh hired North Gwinnett receivers coach and special teams coordinator Troy Hobbs to replace Brian Montgomery, who was forced out amid an investigation into recruiting that led to Shiloh forfeiting its only two victories. Hobbs, 41, came to Georgia with North Gwinnett coach Bob Sphires in 2006. The two had coached together at Lexington Catholic in Kentucky. Shiloh has not had a winning season since 2003 (6-5) and last won a playoff game in 2000 (8-5), when David Pollock was an all-state defensive lineman.

For a look at the new coaches in Class AAAAA, click here.

Story produced by Georgia High School Football Daily, a free e-mail newsletter. To join the mailing list, click here.

26 comments Add your comment


August 1st, 2012
9:20 am

Coffee has over 130 to start their camp.Pruitt has re-energized them but 1-AAAAAA
is adding Camden County to go with traditional powers Lowndes,Valdosta and Colquitt
County so things will be interesting in South Georgia.Tift County definitely will be
improved as well.I can’t wait for big game Friday nights.

Todd Holcomb

August 1st, 2012
9:43 am

Just discovered the Morrow could not offer the job to Pickering because of budget cuts. Contract problems also have forced Tucker and Redan to change directions over coaches they originally named to be their new head coaches.


August 1st, 2012
10:38 am

With the lack of success at Morrow over the past 12 years, maybe the school should look at disbanding the football program. Stability is something that has been lacking with this program. There are other problems obviously so maybe it is time to call it a day.

Old Ball Coach

August 1st, 2012
11:04 am

It’s a shame how tough it is to get a “Quality” Head coach in the metro area. If its this hard for head coaches to get in i can only imagine the hoops coaches have to jump though to get assistant coaches. Its sad because not only do the programs suffer but the kids as well and at the end of the day its all about the kids. The metro area needs to really look at how the value their coaches. My hats off to the coaches in the metro area and what their up against. And people wonder why kids and parents try to do whatever they can to get to certain schools. People want what they feel like is best for them.

Just an observation....

August 1st, 2012
12:26 pm

But didn’t Reid go to Tift and NOT COFFEE?


August 1st, 2012
12:55 pm

who cares Teams will still have to go threw one of the teams from region 8 AAAAAA to win the state title, Brookwood or grayson.

Just an observation....

August 1st, 2012
1:01 pm

Maybe the writer who prepared this story should care.


August 1st, 2012
1:08 pm

Coach Reid went to TIFT County Blue Devils not Coffee…and they got as winner, look for good things FAST down there.


Sugar Hill Dawg

August 1st, 2012
4:51 pm

Ditto, Old Ball Coach. Interesting – the two metro systems that are constantly in the news regarding incompetence of their system’s BOE are the schools shafted by the central office – sounds about right! Yet another plus for residents of Gwinnett!

Hubert Green

August 1st, 2012
8:03 pm

High school coaches are paid very little (with a few exceptions) so it is amazing that there are people out there willing to do the job. Combine that with attempting to please everybody, and it is a minor miracle. High school coaches must have a place reseved in heaven for them. High school coaches do it to help young folks get better and have a chance to go to college or enter the job force well prepared.


August 1st, 2012
11:10 pm

go north gwinnett

Coffee Trojan Fan

August 2nd, 2012
1:08 am

lets get fired up and get on board the Trojan Train and a new era at Coffee High in Douglas,Ga,all visitors welcome,home folks expected,but the environment is getting fired up in Coffee,you can start to feel it in the air,Go Trojans Go

We are Coffee


August 2nd, 2012
7:36 am

The Coffee reserved seating is virtually gone. The attitude during voluntary workouts this was unprecedented. How grand it is to go into a season with Coffee having what is probably the first “PROGRAM” in the history of the school. It’s not but 15 days to the first pay-to-get-in scrimmage. I couldn’t be more excited. I look at my season tickets a couple of times a day.

The first home game? Burke County. Last years AAA, (Now AAAA), state champion. And they’re returning a stellar group. I love Pruitt’s attitude. If Coffee wins then Coffee beats an excellent team. If they lose. Well then they will at least have lost to the same outstanding team. What a difference a year makes. Last year at the same time. Appling County. This year. Burke County.



August 2nd, 2012
7:37 am

Excuse all the typos. Just goes to show how excited I am.

Golden Isles Fan

August 2nd, 2012
2:45 pm

After moving to saint simons ga from Fitzgerald AKA “canefan” I will be following brunswick …………my prayers will be with them in their new region……… for Coffee well, Pruitt will ….well I would not be sleeping on them he is for real and I feel will make a strong impact in region 1 6A….good luck to all the teams …..calhoun brooks and maybe even fitz will be strong contenders in AA.


August 2nd, 2012
9:32 pm

@Golden Isles Fan – Welcome to the group. You are the first Brunswick fan I’ve seen on any of the blogs. What kind of team are you folks expecting this year? Pruitt has certainly made a difference in the attitude at Coffee. You have no idea how long Coffee has waited for a coach with the tools to compete in 1-6A. He is and will be greatly appreciated.

I know one thing. He is a man that lets no one see his cards. The anticipation around Coffee is palpable.

Coffee Trojan#44

August 3rd, 2012
4:47 pm

@CoffeeC100, Do you know if there is any reserved seating left? I need 5 seats. I can’t wait for the season to get here. Go Trojans!


August 3rd, 2012
5:57 pm

Phew whey with AAAAAA; all the action will be in class AAAAA featuring Region 6 with Tucker, Stephenson, MLK, Mays & SWD this year… :)


August 4th, 2012
4:21 am

A Coffee Trojan#44 – As of last Monday they had moved a section in the North end from general admission to reserved seating. If I remember right it’s between the 10 and 15 yard line. That’s the only place you could find five seats together as of last Monday. Other than that there were a couple of seats together on the very top row around the South 35 yard line and a few together right by the student section. (Which is pretty rowdy). But other than that there were only single seats scattered here and there. Some pretty good single seats though. Good luck. See you at the scrimmage on the 17th.

Go Coffee!!!

Coffee Trojan#44

August 4th, 2012
1:14 pm

@CoffeeC100, Yeah, the student section can get a lil rowdy sometimes, I was sitting in it last year. How much are season tix this year? I think they where $50 last year.

South GA Rules

August 6th, 2012
11:57 am

Curious about Robby Pruitt leaving Fitzgerald for Coffee. He left Fitzgerald for 1 year at Warner Robins (2003) & then went back to Fitzgerald. Can anyone shed light as to why? I know he went 6-4 at WRHS, but not sure the reason he left. However, after 3 losing seasons, 6-4 would sound good to Coffee (with the road schedule from HE!!)


August 7th, 2012
10:41 am

@ South GA Rules – I only have what I hear second hand but I understand, for various reasons, Pruitt wasn’t able to get the staff he wanted, (Mostly transfers from Fitzgerald), As you can imagine when a coach of Pruitt’s caliber moves in and brings his support staff a substantial number of teaching positions have to magically come open. The community also has to support the other breadwinners of his support staff. It seemed to me to be a plausable answer when the question was asked around.

And you are indeed right my friend. only four losses sounds very good as that would probably mean we would advance to states and possibly pick up more than 6 in the Win column.

Wow. It’s hard to believe that the first real game, even though it’s a scrimmage is next week. Good luck to you and yours SGR.



August 7th, 2012
10:44 am

@Coffee Trojan #44 – The tickets are $55.00 for the five games and does not include the $5.00 for the August 17th scrimmage. The scrimmage is open seating.

Golden Isles Fan

August 7th, 2012
9:15 pm

Good luck trojan fans………what ever reason Pruitt left does not really matter, but reassure he will dominate. I am goiing to spit ball and say he will take coffee to a 9-4 record his first season and or 8-5 . but he will make a dynasty out of them…………

Golden Isles Fan

August 7th, 2012
9:18 pm

OH- YEAH……………did I day DYNASTY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


August 8th, 2012
3:32 am

@ Golden Isles Fan – It’s good to hear your opinion of Pruitt and the immediate positive effect you believe he will have on the Trojan program. What really matters to all of us in Coffee County is just being able to hold our heads high at the end of the season. But mostly. Not being the patsy for the traditional powers in 1-6A.

Man would it be good, in four or five years, to make a quick turnaround like Colquitt has done and be considered among the “elite” of 1-6A. Who knows? maybe… Just maybe.

Good luck to Brunswick. Have you been there long enough to have an idea of what kind of team Brunswick is expecting to field?