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.
*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).
*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.
*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).
*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.
*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.
*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.