New Class AAAA coaches: Nelson attempts to fill Walker’s shoes at Mary Persons

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

Class AAAA

Number of hires: 12

Best hire: Chris Parker, Pickens

Hardest to replace: Rodney Walker, Mary Persons

Best job: Mary Persons

Toughest job: Southeast Whitfield

Most interesting: Troup fired alumnus Charlie Flowers amid allegations that the coach was recruiting players. It was the first of four off-season coaching changes made amid allegations of recruiting players.

Region 1

*Dougherty promoted defensive coordinator Corey Joyner to replace Jesse Hicks, who took the head job at Central (Macon). Dougherty was 3-17 under Hicks, including 1-9 last season. Joyner is a former Dougherty player who was an All-American at Georgia Southern.

Region 2

*Mary Persons promoted defensive coordinator Brian Nelson to replace Rodney Walker, a Mary Persons alumnus who retired with more than 300 career victories, 40 of them in six seasons at his alma mater, including 9-3 last year. Nelson has coached at Mary Persons since 2006. He has coached at Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Western Illinois and was a graduate assistant at Georgia in 2002. He also coached at Crisp County (2003-05). Nelson is Mary Persons’ fourth coach since 1959.

Region 3

*Butler hired Coffee assistant Myron Newton to replace Ashley Harden, who took the head job at Jenkins County. Harden had come from Florida and went 15-6 in two seasons after Butler had lost 41 consecutive games. Newton played at Murray State and then was a graduate assistant there to Houston Nutt.

Region 5

*Shaw promoted offensive coordinator Kyle Adkins to replace Jamie Fox, who resigned after two seasons for family reasons. Shaw was 5-6 in 2011 and set school passing records under Adkins’ offense. Adkins also has been an assistant at Howard, Ware County, Jefferson County and Twiggs County. Shaw won at least 10 games for 10 consecutive seasons through 2007.

*Troup promoted assistant Lynn Kendall to replace Charlie Flowers, who reportedly was forced out over allegations of recruiting players illegally. Kendall joined Troup’s staff in 2005. He’s previously coached at Callaway (1999-2004) and Pacelli (1989-98). Troup was 16-7 in two seasons under Flowers and won its first playoff game since 2003.

Region 6

*Chamblee hired Allen Johnson, a Chamblee teacher and alumnus who had been out of coaching for two seasons, to replace James Soza, who was 6-14 in two seasons, including 4-6 last year. Johnson was on Mike Collins’ staff at Chamblee for the 2008 and 2009 seasons and remained on faculty the past two seasons. Johnson was a graduate assistant coach at East Tennessee State, where he was a linebacker. Chamblee has been a middling program since its 12-2 season in 2007 under Jim Showfety.

*Columbia hired Southwest DeKalb linebackers coach David Edwards, a Columbia alumnus and former NFL player, to replace Mario Allen, who was 15-16 in three seasons. Edwards also has been head coach of Columbia Middle School (2006-10) and linebackers coach at Washington (2002-05). He was Columbia’s head coach in 1999 and 2000. He’s a former football assistant and head track coach at Clark-Atlanta University. He played for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1985 to 1987 as a defensive back.

*Redan hired longtime boys track and field coach and football assistant Willie Griffieth to replace Clinton Lawrence, who was 8-12 in two seasons, 3-7 in 2011. Griffieth is best known for his work in track, as his teams have won six county and two state titles. The football job originally went to Terrence Amos, but Amos, a head coach in Alabama, declined his contract offer in July over money. Griffieth was Redan’s head football coach in 2002 and went 5-5. Redan last achieved a winning season in 2007 (6-5 under Ronnie Fleetwood) and a playoff victory in 1987 (10-2 under Bill Cloer).

Region 7

*Pickens hired Chapel Hill head coach Chris Parker to replace Steve Sewell, who was 87-104-3 in 19 total seasons (1983-91, 2002-11). Parker was 26-17 at Chapel Hill, which had failed to have a winning season in its eight seasons until Parker arrived. Parker’s first team went 9-3 after an 0-10 finish in 2007. An Alabama native, Parker was the offensive coordinator at Sequoyah before taking the Chapel Hill job.

*Southeast Whitfield hired former Ringgold head coach Sean Gray to replace David Crane, who was 8-32 in four seasons and 1-9 in 2011 at a school that last had a winner in 1986 (6-5). Gray was head coach of Valley Point Middle, a feeder school to Southeast, for the past five seasons. At Ringgold, he was 17-24 in four seasons (2003-06). Gray has been an assistant at Gordon Lee and Gordon Central.

Region 8

*Johnson (Gainesville) hired North Cobb Christian defensive coordinator Jason Roquemore to replace Paul Friel, who endured six losing seasons and was 0-10 in 2011. Roquemore was the defensive coordinator at Kennesaw Mountain (2005-10) before joining North Cobb Christian’s staff in 2011. He also has been an assistant at Carrollton. Johnson’s last winning season was in 2004 (7-4) under Blair Armstrong.

*Madison County promoted quarterbacks coach Chris Smith to replace Randell Owens, who was 36-46 in eight seasons. Smith is a former Madison County quarterback who has coached at his alma mater for the past 14 years. Madison County’s last winning season was in 2006 (8-3).

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

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