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: 9
Best hire: Rodney Cofield, Douglass
Hardest to replace: Chris Parker, Chapel Hill
Best job: Hart County
Toughest job: Jackson County
Most interesting: Rodney Cofield, who brought Washington of Atlanta to prominence during his tenure from 1995 to 2007, is back in coaching after a four-year hiatus. He initially took the job at Therrell and took that team through spring practice, then took a job at Douglass, where he also will be athletics director.
*Central of Macon hired Dougherty head coach Jesse Hicks to replace Anthony Hines, who was 36-65 in 10 seasons. Hicks won region titles at Baldwin in 2008 and 2009 and was 70-24 there but struggled to rebuild Dougherty and was 3-17. Central has not had a winning season since 2005 (6-4) or playoff victory since 1989 (9-3).
*Henry County hired Westside (Macon) offensive coordinator Joe DuPree to replace Mike Rozier, who took the head job at Lakeside of Atlanta. DuPree spent the past seven seasons at Westside, which had a record of 57-21 in that time, always averaging more than 20 points per game. Dupree is a former quarterback at Georgia and Georgia Southern. Henry was 51-67 under Rozier but 40-18 over the past five seasons after breaking a 14-year streak of losing seasons.
*Chapel Hill hired McEachern’s assistant head coach, Geoff Pastrick, to replace Chris Parker, who was 26-17 in four seasons after inheriting an 0-10 team in 2008. Pastrick coached in Texas for six years before coming to Hillgrove in 2007. He then moved to McEachern, which was 35-10 in Pastrick’s four seasons. His specialty has been the offensive line, which he played in college. Chapel Hill will drop to AAA after playing in AAAA and AAAAA the past four seasons.
*Douglass hired former Washington head coach Rodney Cofield to replace Dallas Allen, who was 0-20 in two seasons. Cofield was 97-46-1 in 14 seasons (1995-2007) at Washington but forced to give up coaching after taking a job in administration. Cofield coached the only three Washington teams to win 10 or more games (2004, 2001, 1997) since the 1950s. Washington had endured 15 consecutive losing seasons until Cofield arrived. Douglass had just three losing seasons from 1985 to 2007 but has struggled with declining enrollment. The school was in the highest classification as recently as 2009.
*North Murray hired Ringgold offensive coordinator David Gann to replace Larry Cornelius, who was 1-19 in the school’s only two varsity seasons. Gann had been at Ringgold, his alma mater, since 2006. He previously had assisted at Northwest Whitfield (1996-2000) and Southeast Whitfield (2003-05). He also worked as a graduate assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Tennessee. Cornelius is now head coach at Mitchell County.
*Decatur hired Chattooga head coach Brad Waggoner to replace Price Jones, who was 18-22 in four seasons. Waggoner was 18-13 in three seasons at Chattooga. The 9-2 finish in 2009 was the school’s best since 2000 (9-2). Waggoner also has been a head coach in Alabama at Pike County (5-5 in 2008) and Luverne (25-11 in 2005-07). He has been a graduate assistant at VMI and Alabama and an assistant at West Alabama, Sandy Creek and Fayette County. Decatur has not made the playoffs since a 13-1 finish in 2003.
*West Hall hired Woodland (Stockbridge) assistant Tony Lotti to replace Mike Newton, who was 12-38 in five seasons. Lotti, a former player at Morrow who became an All-America punter at Tennessee Weslelyan, was an assistant at Union Grove (2000-06) before coming to Woodland in 2007. Both were new programs when he arrived. West Hall’s last winning season was 2002 (9-2).
*Hart County promoted defensive coordinator William DeVane to replace Joby Scroggs, who retired after posting a 70-31-2 record in 10 seasons at Hart. DeVane, a former standout defensive lineman at Clemson, was 36-3 as Hart County’s head coach from 1998 to 2000. He was head coach at Greene County (2001) and Clarke Central (2002-05) with marginal success before returning to Hart in 2006. Hart County was 6-4 last season and failed to make the playoffs for the first time in 19 seasons.
*Jackson County hired Flowery Branch offensive coordinator Benji Harrison to replace Billy Kirk, who was 12-37-1 in five seasons. Flowery Branch averaged 44 points per game last season. Harrison, a Toccoa native, also has coached as an assistant at Elbert County (2000-01) and Franklin County (2002-07). Jackson County last had a winning season in 1992 (8-2-1) and was 3-7 in 2011.
Note: Fannin County of Region 7 promoted its interim head coach, Greg Chambers, to permanent status in January. Chambers has worked at Fannin since 1995, his only school out of college, and became interim head coach during the 2011 season when Clark Drennan was let go.
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