Tucker’s Lamar among 13 new coaches in Class AAAAA

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


Number of hires: 13

Best hire: Chris Davis, Cedar Shoals

Hardest to replace: Franklin Stephens, Tucker

Best job: Flowery Branch

Toughest job: Forest Park

Most interesting: After winning a second state title in five seasons, Tucker’s Franklin Stephens leaves a powerhouse in the spotlight for Lamar County, a Class AA school in rural middle Georgia.

Region 2

*Greenbrier promoted defensive line coach Kevin Hunt to replace Brian Smith, who was 13-27 in four seasons. Hunt had been a head coach at Cross Creek in Augusta (2002-05) and was 12-28. Greenbrier was 5-5 in 2011 and has not had a winning season since 2003 (7-4).

Region 4

*Creekside hired former UCLA player Aaron Whittington, 26, to replace Johnny T. White, who was 19-12 in three seasons. Whittington coached in his native Missouri after leaving UCLA as a two-year starting safety in 2008. Creekside has not suffered a losing season since 1995 but last won a playoff game in 2006, when the team’s quarterback was Eric Berry. White remains on faculty at Creekside, and Whittington retained White’s staff.

*Forest Park promoted Don J. Williams to replace Edmund Coley, who was 1-9 in one season. Williams will be Forest Park’s eighth coach in 11 seasons, during which the team’s best record has been 2-8. Williams has been an assistant for more than 20 years at Monroe Area, Forest Park, Stockbridge and Eagle’s Landing. Williams was coach of Forest Park’s region championship wrestling team in 2011. Forest Park is the alma mater of former Georgia and NFL star Hines Ward.

*Mount Zion hired Rex Middle School coach Ervin Starr to replace Jamie Aull, who was 12-19 in his three seasons at his alma mater. Starr was an assistant coach at Robert E. Lee High in Montgomery, Ala., his hometown, from 2002 to 2007. Mount Zion has advanced in the playoffs only once (2008) since reaching the AAAA final in 1999.

*Mundy’s Mill hired Screven County head coach Greg Manior to replace Peniel Dany, who was 7-23 in three seasons. Manior’s record is 34-47 in nine seasons at Savannah (2000-01), South Effingham (2006-09) and Screven County (2010-11) in southeast Georgia. Mundy’s Mill is 32-58-2 in 10 seasons with only one playoff appearance (2007). Mundy’s Mill was 2-8 last season.

Region 5

*East Paulding hired Walton defensive coordinator Chuck Goddard to replace John Reid, who took the head job at Tift County. Walton was 14-1 in 2011 and allowed 11.3 points in reaching its first state championship game. Goddard was 32-58 in nine seasons at Wheeler (2001-05) and Cass (1997-00). East Paulding was 11-2 last season and 60-15 in Reid’s six seasons.

*North Paulding hired former Kennesaw Mountain and South Cobb head coach Scott Jones to replace Heath Webb, who started the program and was 17-23 in four seasons. Jones most recently had been an assistant at North Cobb. His record as a head coach is 69-74 at Kennesaw Mountain (2000-09) and South Cobb (1995-99).

Region 6

*Lakeside hired Henry County head coach Mike Rozier to replace Marcus Mitchell, who was 0-10 in one season as an interim head coach. Rozier, a Towers graduate who is returning to his native DeKalb County, was 51-67 in his 11 years at Henry but finished with five consecutive winning seasons. That included 10-2 records in 2007 and 2008, the peak seasons in the Henry County’s best run in school history. Lakeside, a state power for three decades into the mid-1990s, has not had a winning season since 2003. Lakeside has had six head coaches since 2005.

*North Atlanta hired West Forsyth linebackers coach Doug Britten to replace Stanley Pritchett, who took the head job at Westlake after a 2-7 season. It is the first head coaching job for Britten, who has assisted at West Forsyth (2010-11), Northview (2009), Dunwoody (2002-08) and schools in Florida and his native New Jersey (1995-2001). North Atlanta was 7-3 as recently as 2010 but has not made the playoffs since 1996.

*Tucker hired its former defensive coordinator, Bryan Lamar, to replace Franklin Stephens, who took the head job at Lamar County after winning state titles in 2008 and 2011. Lamar is a 1999 Tucker graduate who returned to his alma mater in 2004 to coach the middle school team before rising to the position of defensive coordinator in 2007. In 2011, Lamar left Tucker to become the boys basketball coach at Stockbridge. The Tucker job initially went to Bryan Love, the defensive coordinator at Camden County, but Love backed out over a contract dispute and returned to Camden.

Region 7

*Cambridge hired Milton athletics director and linebackers coach Craig Bennett to start the newest program in north Fulton County. Bennett replaced Cambridge’s original choice, Christian Hunnicutt. Bennett has been an assistant the past 17 years – five at Milton, 10 at Pope and two at Darlington. His brother, Chris Bennett, is head coach at Forsyth Central, their alma mater. Hunnicutt, the longtime Buford assistant, resigned for personal reasons just two months after being tapped as the school’s first head coach. Cambridge will play a full Region 7 schedule.

Region 8

*Cedar Shoals hired Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) head coach Chris Davis to replace interim coach Dreco Thomas. Davis, 37, was 18-13-1 in three seasons at Palm Beach Gardens and 9-3-1 in 2011, reaching the Class 8A quarterfinals. Davis’ top player at Palm Beach Gardens was lineman Avery Young, who signed with Auburn. Davis also has coached at Lakeland, Glades Central and Fort Meade in Florida. Cedar Shoals was 5-5 under Thomas, the boys basketball coach, who was pressed into emergency duty late last summer when a coach hired in February abruptly resigned. Cedar Shoals’ last winning season came in 2008 (7-5).

*Flowery Branch promoted defensive coordinator Chris Griffin to replace Lee Shaw just five days after Shaw left to take the head job at his alma mater, Rabun County. Griffin helped Shaw start the Flowery Branch program in 2002 and was defensive coordinator the past nine seasons. Flowery Branch is 79-41 all-time and was 11-2 in 2011. Griffin coached in South Carolina for six years before coming to Georgia.

18 comments Add your comment


August 1st, 2012
9:50 am

Why is it so hard to keep a coach at Tucker?


August 1st, 2012
11:05 am

@JustMyOpinion — $$$

Old Ball Coach

August 1st, 2012
11:13 am

It’s so hard because the metro area doesnt take care of its coaches or its programs like other parts of the state does.


August 1st, 2012
11:30 am

Promising one thing in the interview and attempting to deliver something different in the contract! :-)


August 1st, 2012
11:58 am

The entire Dekalb County Athletic Department needs an over haul. We need “forward thinking” and common sense management! How do you have some of the best football in the state and yet most coach’s take off once they have a title? I know – $$$ . It’s time to pay for talent.


August 1st, 2012
1:10 pm

I pray that East’s new coach knows more than what his record indicates. If not,I am afraid he will be sent out of the county on the raider ship that is in the boneyard. He-he


August 1st, 2012
1:16 pm

To “TheBigBoom@EP” can’t agree more! He is inheriting a VERY talented team with Mitchell Webb back at QB. DON’T REINVENT THE WHEEL…it’s working fine! Some fine tuning is OK BUT stay on track!

You are correct that RAIDER ship “VICTORY” doesn’t want to have to make the “captain” walk the plank!!!



August 1st, 2012
2:56 pm

The new season is almost here… Can you feel it?

When are the pre-season rankings coming out? We need something to argue about, time seems to go by faster :S


August 1st, 2012
3:59 pm

Tucker is a perennial winning program but was lacking in only one area, state titles. They get a good quality coach in coach Stephens and boom they get 2 state titles along with other deep playoff runs and then poof! he leaves the program after one of the more remarkable coaching stints in recent memory. This would seem illogical to someone who was not familiar with the issues that these coaches have to deal with. We need big change in dekalb and other metro areas if we want to attract and Keep good coaches.


August 1st, 2012
10:46 pm

@THE “CANNON RULES”!! – We should see something the 17th. I like that our Jamboree game is a good test this year. (McEachern). Other than that I don’t see another test until 11-09 (Allatoona). If we struggle before then, in my opinion it will rest squarely on Chuck Goddard shoulders.

Advice for East

August 2nd, 2012
7:46 am

As a person from Walton if Coach G has the same attitude as our head coach scrimmage games don’t mean squat. Norcross beat our tails last year because our key players were not “ALLOWED” to play but so many plays that game. To us it is just a scrimmage not a game that counts much.


August 2nd, 2012
10:52 am

Camden 74 – Coach Love knew exactly what he was getting into when he first accepted the job. I was on the Selection Committee at Tucker and sat through both the early informal interview and the formal interview. Both Coach Herron at Camden and Franklin Stephens had discussed the job with him throughout the process. Also, Coach Love had interviewed for the Tucker job five years ago as one of the finalist. Again, he knew the score.


August 3rd, 2012
11:43 am

Why it’s so hard for a school like Tucker to retain a coach like Franklin Stephens? Well, have you seen the facilities those Dekalb County schools have to play their games in? Considering how much they’ve won over the years, you would think that they would have their own football stadium like every other powerhouse in this state. But no, they have to get on a bus and go crosstown in rush-hour traffic to old, run-down, antiquated places like Adams, North Dekalb, and Panthersville, then have to share the revenue generated from their ticket sales with perennial losers like Cross Keys, Clarkston, and Lakeside. Even schools that lose every year like North Springs, Riverwood, and Meadowcreek would laugh out loud at the shacks that Tucker, MLK, Cedar Grove, and Stephenson play their games at. If I was Coach Stephens and was told by the central office to get in line behind those schools if I wanted $$$ for uniforms, football gear, payraises for the staff, et al, I’d be on the first thing smoking out of town also.

Sad to say, but most winning football coaches in Dekalb and APS use those schools as stepping stones to eventually go to other places where the rewards for winning (packed stadiums, new uniforms, no 5:15 Friday kickoffs) are far greater than merely getting a pat on the back at season’s end. For every Buck Godfrey who sticks around, there’s a David Kelley and a Willie Hunter who leave their schools in the dust for greater pastures. Until Dekalb and APS realizes that and make it more worthwhile to stay, well….


August 3rd, 2012
5:49 pm

Tiger4Life, I totally agree with you, you will here from me (ALL) season long but this year I’m an Stephenson , MLK & Tucker fan. My favorite is the team that sits on top of the mountian with that big “S” on their chest! It’s Stephenson then all the rest of those guys…

Inquiring minds

August 3rd, 2012
6:55 pm

Who got the basketball job over at Stockbridge since Lamar left?


August 4th, 2012
2:00 pm


I agree the “Jamboree” game should give us a good idea which direction EAST will go this year! Win at McEachern and folks will take notice…Play a close game but stay in it to the end…shows the team still believes in itself and should be OK…Lose BIG in a blowout (with Coach Goddard having a defensive background) and it could get nasty FAST!!!

I agree with your take on the schedule with a few comments…EAST can’t look past South Paulding, North Paulding has a new coach also and will be out to prove something, but the last game against Allatoona shuld be a good one!


Athletic Mom

August 5th, 2012
3:49 am

Thank you Dejay for explaining the issues plagueing Dekalb County Schools athletic programs….THAT is it in a “nutshell!” The lousy stadiums and sharing of funds (with programs that don’t even try) is so unfair!!! The athletic programs, like the academic/staffing situations need a major overhaul and FAST!!!! They need to START at the board and clean downward…..FOR THE CHILDREN….the reason we have schools in the first place…..REMEMBER people???


August 6th, 2012
9:32 pm

Well the AJC has given us HS football fans something new to exercise our keyboard skills. The season is fast approaching and I’m excited about 5A. With the addition of Stephenson and MLK to the mix, along with the usual, most recent and long term powerhouses (Tucker, NSWR, WR, East Paulding, Kell, SWD, Mays, Clarke Central, TCC, Flowery Branch, Ware, etc) we fans of will be entertain with some of GA best HS football, regardless of what the fans of 6A say, about our little brother class. (LOL) Gone are some of our great competitors (Marist, Statesboro, Lovejoy, etc). Good Luck to these programs, that have of the years, provided the fans with many Friday Night memories.

@WarEagle – Your opinion on coach Stephens leaving is correct and I can’t blame him. This is his career choice and he must do what is necessary for him and his family. We all make decision, daily, centered on these conditions of life. PS: True Tucker fans will miss our long standing rivalry (20+ years)…GOOD LUCK to your War Eagles…we will be cheering Marist success in 4A.

@Dejay – Your post hits the situation in DeKalb HS sports on the head, sad but true. I’ve said many times in other post, until the BOE puts its efforts and dedication toward the children, HS sports in DeKalb will always be a spring board for the career minded coaches. I will add, that like coach Godfrey (SWD) & coach Gartrell (Stephenson) , it takes a coach with a true love of DeKalb and home grown to continue to put up with the crap that DeKalb sports provide towards his/hers coaching career. This is exactly what Tucker has in Coach Lamar, raised and a alumni of DeKalb. We Tiger fans are excited about the long term future of Tucker football.

@Athletic Mom – Ditto to your post. Looking forward to a female’s opinion as the season draws near. Hope you are a Tucker Tiger fan! (LOL)

@THE CANNON RULES”!! – First, glad to see you back in the chair and looking forward toward our region blogging when the playoffs begin. Reclassification changed much for your Raiders…expect EP to be the program to beat in region 5 and seated #1 in the region in November. Having had a chance to analyze the brackets, but hopefully round one for region 5 is not a matchup with region 6…the 4th seat from region 6, will be like playing a #1 seat. (LOL)

@JAB – Welcome to you and the jaguar nation to 5A region 6. It will be an exciting year, as DeKalb gets its powerhouse programs in one region. This is a long time coming and Hallford will be off the chain. Oh, I caught your order of teams in region 6, with your post to Tiger4Life, but remember Tucker Tigers is and have proven that they are the TOP CAT in the region…”COME AND GET SOME!!!”


REGION 6, the best in GA 2012 5A Football……