Capsules of all 28 semifinal coaches: Eight make the semifinals for the first time

Here is a look at each of the 28 head coaches in the semifinals.

We reported earlier this week that St. Pius has three graduates – all the class of 1980 – represented as head coaches in the semifinals. They are Keith Maloof at Norcross, Paul Standard at St. Pius and Ed Dudley at Ware County.

Here are five more bits of trivia:

*Four of the 28 coaches have experienced 0-10 seasons. They are Gainesville’s Bruce Miller (1991), Buford’s Jess Simpson (1997), North Hall’s Bob Christmas (1997) and Monroe Area’s Matt Fligg (2003, 2008-09).

*Three are in the semifinals with a second school this season. They are Ware County’s Ed Dudley (previously with Walton) and Lamar County’s Franklin Stephens (previously Tucker) and Whitewater’s Amos McCreary (previously Creekside). Jefferson’s T. McFerrin is in the semis with his fifth school.

*Three were students together at Jacksonville State. They are Al Hughes of Lovejoy, Rush Propst of Colquitt County and Amos McCreary of Whitewater. Three were members of West Georgia’s 1982 national championship team. They are Keith Maloof of Norcross, Frank Barden of Cartersville and Kevin Kinsler of Northside. Hal Lamb of Calhoun came to West Georgia in 1983.

*Four are sons of successful former Georgia head coaches. They are Keith Maloof of Norcross, Matt Fligg of Monroe Area, Chip Walker of Sandy Creek and Hal Lamb of Calhoun.

*Eight are in the Georgia semifinals for the first time. They are Shane Queen of North Cobb, Keith Maloof of Norcross, Matt Fligg of Monroe Area, Mark Mariakis of Ridgeland, Tim Hardy of Greater Atlanta Christian, Jimmy Hughes of Dooly County, Wayne Brantley of Landmark Christian and Chris Kearson of ECI.


Al Hughes, Lovejoy

High school: Jonesboro

College: Jacksonville State

Record: 108-80

State titles: 0

Background: Hughes has coached for 35 seasons, all in his native Clayton County. He was Jonesboro’s head coach from 1989 to 1993. He has been at Lovejoy ever since and was promoted from offensive coordinator in 2001. Hughes is Clayton County’s career leader in coaching victories and this season became the first to win 100 games.

Noteworthy: Hughes is one of three Jacksonville State graduates in school in the late 1970s who have teams in the semifinals. The others are Rush Propst of Colquitt County and Amos McCreary of Lovejoy.

Shane Queen, North Cobb

High school: South Cobb

College: Tennessee Tech

Record: 82-58

State titles: 0

Background: Queen grew up in Cobb and assisted at his alma mater, South Cobb, before getting the head job there in 2000. He was 36-28 before being hired at North Cobb in 2006. Queen led North Cobb to its only 10-0 season and No. 1 ranking in 2007 and first semifinal since in 53 years this season.


Queen was an All-America defensive lineman at Tennessee Tech and holds the school’s career record for sacks and tackles for losses.

Keith Maloof, Norcross

High school: St. Pius

College: West Georgia

Record: 128-59

State titles: 0

Background: Maloof coached at West Georgia, Loganville, Meadowcreek and Dacula before getting his first head coaching job at Tucker in 1996. He took over at Norcross in 1999.

Noteworthy: Maloof is the son of George Maloof, who was St. Pius’ coach for 26 years. Maloof’s brother, Kevin, also was a head coach for 26 seasons in Georgia, most notably at Dacula, and retired after the 2010 season. The Maloofs are the only family with three members who have led Georgia teams to the semifinals.

Rush Propst, Colquitt County

High school: Ohatchee (Ala.)

College: Jacksonville State

Record: 217-74

State titles: 5 (2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 in Alabama)

Background: Propst’s first head coaching job came at Ashville High in Alabama in 1989 after stints as an assistant at three schools, including Cherokee in Georgia. Propst also was head coach of Eufaula (1994-96), Alba (1997) and Alma Bryant (1998) but gained fame at Hoover, where he won 110 games and five state titles in nine seasons and was featured in the MTV reality series “Two-A-Days.”. He became Colquitt County’s head coach in 2008.

Noteworthy: Propst is the third Georgia coach in history to lead a school to the semifinals four consecutive seasons in the highest classification. The other two are Georgia legends Wright Bazemore of Valdosta and Wayman Creel of Northside of Atlanta (and later Lakeside of Atlanta and Westminster). Both ended their careers as the all-time leader in victories in the state.


Ed Dudley, Ware County

High school: St. Pius

College: Rhodes

Record: 171-72

State titles: 0

Background: Dudley was a high school and college lineman. He coached at Clarke Central, Statesboro, Darlington and Carrollton before getting his first head coaching job at Buford (1992-94). He was Walton’s head coach from 1995 to 2008 before getting the Ware County job.

Noteworthy: Ware County is the second school that Dudley has taken to the semifinals. The other was Walton (2004, 2007). Five other current semifinal coaches have taken two schools to the Georgia semis. They are Bruce Miller of Gainesville, T. McFerrin of Jefferson, Mark Farriba of Prince Avenue Christian, Amos McCreary of Whitewater and Franklin Stephens of Lamar County.

Kevin Kinsler, Northside (Warner Robins)

High school: Northside

College: West Georgia

Record: 36-2

State titles: 0

Background: Kinsler is a former Northside player who had been a Northside assistant for 22 seasons, 15 as the defensive coordinator, when promoted to head coach in 2010. He spent five years as an assistant at Haralson County before coming home to Northside.

Noteworthy: Kinsler succeeded a 300-game winner in Conrad Nix, who also was Kinsler’s coach as a high school player. Kinsler was Northside’s quaterback and later the scout team quarterback on West Georgia’s Division II national championship team in 1982, when he was teammates with fellow semifinal coaches Frank Barden (Cartersville) and Keith Maloof (Norcross).

Bruce Miller, Gainesville

High school: South Stanley (N.C.)

College: Mars Hill

Record: 184-104

State titles: 0

Background: Miller came to Gainesville in 2002 after leading North Forsyth to the Class AAA semifinals in 2001. He’s 116-24 at Gainesville. Miller was head coach at Cass in Bartow County from 1988 to 1996 and had only one winning season. Miller previously had been an assistant coach at Parkview and Brookwood.

Noteworthy: Two players from Miller’s 2009 team that reached the Class AAA final will play against each other in the BCS national championship game. Blake Sims plays for Alabama, and Tai-ler “T.J.” Jones plays for Notre Dame.

Amos McCreary, Whitewater

High school: Evarts (Ky.)

College: Jacksonville State

Record: 136-61

State titles: 0

Background: McCreary was an assistant at Jefferson (1982), Palmetto (1983-1989) and Creekside (1990-1992) before being promoted to the head job at Creekside in 1993. Palmetto was the last south Fulton County public school to win a state title in 1983. Creekside was the last south Fulton public school to play in the Georgia Dome semifinals in 2000. McCreary’s teams have not been shut out or suffered a losing season since 1995.

Noteworthy: McCreary and his coordinators Dennis Goss (defense) and Wes Hardin (offense) won a state championship together at Palmetto in 1983. McCreary and Goss were among the four coaches on the staff, and Hardin was the team’s sophomore quarterback.


Mark Mariakis, Ridgeland

High school: East Ridge (Chattanooga, Tenn.)

College: UT-Chattanooga

Record: 81-70-1

State titles: 0

Background: Mariakis has coached in the northwest Georgia/Chattanooga area for nearly 30 years. He was head coach at Lakeview-Ft. Oglethorpe (1995-99) and defensive coordinator at Chattooga (2003-03) before taking the Ridgeland job in 2004. He has led Ridgeland to seven playoff appearances.

Noteworthy: Mariakis had scholarship offers to play three sports but chose baseball and was a first baseman and pitcher on UTC teams that included current UTC head football coach Russ Huesman.

Chip Walker, Sandy Creek

High school: Stephens County

College: Tusculum

Record: 86-16

State titles: 2 (2009, 2010)

Background: Walker was an assistant at Wofford College and Mary Persons before coming to Sandy Creek in 2001. He succeeded his father, Rodney Walker, as the Patriots’ head coach in 2005.

Noteworthy: The Walkers were the first father and son to win state titles as head coaches in Georgia. Rodney Walker won in 1985 with West Rome. Hal Lamb of Calhoun and father Ray Lamb matched the Walkers’ feat in 2012.

Alan Chadwick, Marist

High school: Decatur

College: East Tennessee State

Record: 311-54

State titles: 2 (1989, 2003)

Background: Chadwick was an assistant at Marist when promoted to head coach in 1985. Chadwick has led Marist to the playoffs and a winning season in all 29 of his seasons.

Noteworthy: Chadwick was an all-state quarterback at Decatur in 1968 and signed with Georgia. He transferred to East Tennessee State and led the Ohio Valley Conference in passing yards. He was taken in the 1974 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears.

Matt Fligg, Monroe Area

High school: Irmo (Columbia, S.C.)

College: South Carolina

Record: 96-116

State titles: 0

Background: Fligg has been a head coach in Georgia the past 21 seasons at Stone Mountain (1993-95), Rockdale County (1996-2001), Chestatee (2002-05) and Monroe Area (2006-12). Fligg’s 2010 team was the fourth in state history to win 10 games after going winless the previous season.

Noteworthy: Fligg’s father, Jack, was a college assistant at several stops, including Alabama and Georgia Tech with Bill Curry and West Virginia with Bobby Bowden, who recommended Matt for the Monroe Area job. Matt Fligg grew up living next door to the Bowdens in West Virginia. Jack Fligg passed away in August at age 81. Bowden, Curry and Ray Goff spoke at his funeral.


Jess Simpson, Buford

High school: Marietta

College: Auburn

Record: 106-18

State titles: 4 (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)

Background: Simpson played at Marietta under Dexter Wood, then at Auburn under Pat Dye. Simpson assisted Wood at Marietta and Buford. Simpson was a Buford assistant for nine years before getting the head coaching job in 2005. He was defensive coordinator on three Buford state championship teams.

Noteworthy: Simpson was 0-10 in his first head coaching job at East Paulding in 1997. He also had three victories overturned this season because of the inadvertent use of an ineligible player for only a few plays late in blowout games. His record at Buford without the forfeits is 108-7.

Bob Christmas, North Hall

High school: Palmetto (Miami, Fla.)

College: North Carolina

Record: 233-106

State titles: 3 (1991, 1992, 1993 in Virginia)

Background: Christmas won state titles at Jefferson Forest High and Lynchburg Christian Academy in Virginia, where he was head coach for 16 seasons before coming to Bainbridge in 1997. Christmas also was an assistant coach and the recruiting coordinator at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., for three seasons.

Noteworthy: One of Virginia’s most successful coaches, Christmas was only 13-38 in his first five seasons as a Georgia head coach. But he is 96-33 since and led North Hall, a 55-year-old school, to its only region titles (2004, 2006, 2007, 2012) and semifinal appearances (2007, 2012).

Paul Standard, St. Pius

High school: St. Pius

College: The Citadel

Record: 107-36

State titles: 0

Background: Standard has been his alma mater’s head coach since 2001. He assisted at Loganville (1985), Meadowcreek (1986-1990) and Dacula (1991-2000).

Noteworthy: St. Pius had not won 10 games in a season or advanced in the playoffs in 33 years when Standard was hired. St. Pius has had five 10-win seasons and won 14 playoff games since.

Frank Barden, Cartersville

High school: Habersham Central

College: West Georgia

Record: 149-70-1

State titles: 1 (1999)

Background: Barden was an assistant at alma mater Habersham Central (1985-86) and Stephens County (1987-93) before his first head coaching job at Pickens (1994-95). He replaced Mike Earwood at Cartersville in 1996 and won a state title in 1999, when his team’s star player was Ronnie Brown.

Noteworthy: Barden was the offensive coordinator for Stephens County’s 1988 state runner-up team. Stephens County’s quarterback was Chip Walker, now head coach at AAAA semifinalist Sandy Creek.


Tim Hardy, GAC

High school: Newton-Conover (N.C.)

College: Wheaton (Ill.)

Record: 19-18

State titles: 0

Background: Hardy came to Georgia in 2009 to start the program at Mountain View in Gwinnett County. This is his first season at GAC. Hardy coached for nine seasons at Wheaton College, where he most recently had been offensive coordinator and strength and conditioning coordinator.

Noteworthy: Hardy was a quarterback and conference offensive player of the year at Wheaton, a Division III school, in 1998.

Hal Lamb, Calhoun

High school: Commerce

College: West Georgia

Record: 161-43

State titles: 1 (2011)

Background: Lamb was an assistant at Cartersville from 1988 to 1995 and was the offensive coordinator on Cartersville’s 1991 state championship team. Lamb was head coach at Upson-Lee for two seasons before coming in 1999 to Calhoun, where he has won 11 region titles.

Noteworthy: Lamb is one of fewer than 10 men to win Georgia state championships as player and coach. He was a wide receiver on Commerce’s 1981 Class AA championship team. He was coach for Calhoun’s 2011 Class AA championship team.

T. McFerrin, Jefferson

High school: Murfreesboro Central (Tenn.)

College: Middle Tennessee State

Record: 338-102-4

State titles: 1 (1995)

Background: McFerrin began coaching in 1965 and got his first head coaching job at Lithonia in 1968. McFerrin has led seven schools to the quarterfinals and five to the semifinals. Both are state records.

Noteworthy: McFerrin’s semifinal teams are 1969 Lithonia (won), 1971 Forest Park (lost), 1981 Peachtree (lost), 1982 Peachtree (won), 1995 Elbert County (won) and 2012 Jefferson.

Franklin Stephens, Lamar County

High school: Burke County

College: Georgia Southern

Record: 72-6-1

State titles: 2 (2008, 2012)

Background: Stephens was an assistant coach at his alma mater Burke County (1996-2001) and Camden County (2002-2006). Burke made its first state final in 1997, and Camden won its first state title in 2003. Stephens got the Tucker job in 2007. Tucker won its first state title in 2008. High school teams with Stephens on their staff are 183-35-2.

Noteworthy: Stephens was the Southern Conference lineman of the year at Georgia Southern in 1994 and played two seasons in the Arena League.

A (Public)

Larry Campbell, Lincoln County

High school: Calhoun Falls (S.C.)

College: Georgia

Record: 470-80-3

State titles: 11 (1976, 1977, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1995, 2005, 2006)

Background: Campbell has been Lincoln County’s head coach since 1972. He has won 11 state championships, the most recent in 2006.

Noteworthy: Campbell ranks third nationally in career victories behind John McKissick of South Carolina (601-148-13) and John T. Curtis of Louisiana (519-54-6). Only 10 coaches have won 400 games.

Jimmy Hughes, Dooly County

High school: Crisp County

College: Georgia Southwestern

Record: 31-33

State titles: 0

Background: Hughes had been head coach at Monticello for three seasons before getting the Dooly job in 2010. He also spent 12 seasons as an assistant coach at Crisp County, his alma mater. Dooly is enjoying its first 25-win stretch over three seasons since 2002, when the Bobcats most recently were in a state championship game.

Noteworthy: A high school quarterback, Hughes played football as a safety at Georgia Tech but completed his undergraduate degree nearer his home at Georgia Southwestern.

Chris Kearson, Emanuel County Institute

High school: Ware County

College: Union College (Ky.)

Record: 20-3

State titles: 0

Background: Kearson assisted at Peach County (1996-2001) before coming to ECI. He specialized as coaching receivers, his position in high school and college. But he switched sides at ECI and was defensive coordinator on ECI’s 2007 championship team. He succeeded Milan Turner as head coach in 2011. He still runs the defense.

Noteworthy: Kearson and his opposing coach this week, Mark Ledford of Wilcox County, got to know each other while Kearson coached at Peach County and Ledford at Crisp County in the late 1990s. They faced off as head baseball coaches – Kearson at Byron Middle, Ledford at Crisp Middle – in a series of games that each coach now describes as “fierce battles.”

Mark Ledford, Wilcox County

High school: Wilcox County

College: Georgia Southwestern

Record: 100-43-1

State titles: 1 (2009)

Background: Ledford was an assistant at Turner County (1993) and Crisp County (1994-2000) before getting the head job at Wilcox, where he grew up and played quarterback in the 1980s. This is his 20th season of coaching.

Noteworthy: Ledford was a 5-foot-9, 155-pound quarterback for Wilcox in the 1980s. Teammates included wide receiver Ronnie West, who went on to play in the NFL, and running back Alfred Rawls, later an All-American at Kentucky.

A (Private)

Mark Farriba, Prince Avenue Christian

High school: Stratford Academy

College: Georgia

Record: 146-96-3

State titles: 2 (1985, 2004 in GISA)

Background: Farriba had won state titles in the Georgia Independent School Association at First Presbyterian Day (1985) and Stratford Academy (2004) before taking the Prince Avenue job in 2007. Farriba is one of only 10 coaches in state history (including GISA) to take three schools to the semifinals. Farriba is 41-25-1 at Prince Avenue.

Noteworthy: Farriba was a backup tight end and punter on Georgia’s 1976 SEC championship team and was a graduate assistant coach on Georgia’s 1978 Wonderdogs team.

Jonathan Gess, Eagle’s Landing Christian

High school: Clover (S.C.)

College: The Citadel

Record: 59-15

State titles: 0

Background: Gess, a former Air Force captain at Robins Air Force Base, was hired as ELCA’s head coach in 2007 at age 28. He had been an offensive line coach and head of strength and conditioning at First Presbyterian Day School in Macon for three years.

Noteworthy: Gess, the son of a Presbyterian minister, was a three-year starting center at The Citadel.

Wayne Brantley, Landmark Christian

High school: Southside (Jackson, Tenn.)

College: Lambuth University

Record: 31-25

State titles: 0

Background: Brantley was head coach for four seasons at Tuscaloosa Academy in Alabama before returning to Landmark Christian in 2011, then succeeded Kenny Dallas as head coach this season. Brantley had been Landmark’s offensive coordinator from 2001 to 2006 and an assistant at Trinity Christian Academy in Tennessee from 1993 to 2000, all under Dallas.

Noteworthy: Brantley considers Dallas and his line coaches at Tuscaloosa Academy to be major influences on him as a coach. At Tuscaloosa, his offensive line coach was Jack Rutledge, an assistant to Bear Bryant at Alabama for 17 years. Brantley’s defensive line coach was John Copeland, an All-America defensive end on Alabama’s 1992 national championship team.

Don Williams, George Walton Academy

High school: Kendrick

College: Valdosta State

Record: 138-84-1

State titles: 2 (2003, 2009)

Background: Williams was an assistant coach at Early County from 1974 to 1981 but got out of coaching for 12 years to work in the insurance business with two brothers. One of his childhood friends was headmaster at George Walton Academy in 1991 and talked him into getting back into football. He became George Walton’s head coach in 1994.

Noteworthy: About a dozen coaches have led schools to the semifinals in both the GISA and the GHSA, but Williams is the first to do it at the same school.

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13 comments Add your comment


December 7th, 2012
7:28 am

Great article, great stats.

some sense

December 7th, 2012
8:01 am

Lots of great coaches. None better than Paul Standard and Alan Chadwick. Let public school coaches howl (whine) over their success.

Todd Holcomb

December 7th, 2012
9:04 am

Wondered if this is the first time that SPX and Marist (catholic schools) had made the semis. It also happened in 2006.


December 7th, 2012
9:25 am

Isn’t McCreary the coach at Whitewater ? You have him mentioned in the Coach Hughes Bio as being at Lovejoy.

Decatur 4 Life

December 7th, 2012
9:40 am

some sense

I agree Chadwick and Standard are great coaches (mainly Chadwick), but to compare them to public school coaches that doesn’t add up. True they all play each other but private schools get whom ever they want public schools use what they have big difference. Even the public schools that recruit illegally can’t compete with what the private schools do on a every year basis, if this wasn’t true there would be no need for single A to have separate playoffs for private and public schools. Not taking anything away from Standard and Chadwick just don’t compare to them to public school coaches


December 7th, 2012
9:40 am

Good piece. Make it an annual thing.


December 7th, 2012
9:49 am

Hal Lamb’s son Ben played on last years state champion team, making it a son and a grandson state champ for Hal’s dad.

12th region title not 11 btw.

wrong again

December 7th, 2012
9:57 am

Come on guys, do some research before you make statements. North Cobb was not only 10-0 but was 12-0 in 1979 before losing to eventual state champion Clarke Central in the quarter finals. This fact was actually mentioned in an AJC article a couple of weeks ago so it wouldn’t have taken much research to see that you were wrong in saying Queen led the school to its only 10-0 regular season.


December 7th, 2012
10:15 am

Decatur 4 Life, are you BS’in or did you crawl out from under a rock? Public schools, especially in Dekalb and in Buford don’t recruit or help kids transfer? Come on man this is GA! SPX offers 0 athletic scholarships and and every student has to meet the academic and personal standards of the school; athlete or not. Paul Standard takes what he has, typically smaller and slower and builds an old fashioned thing called a TEAM! FYI- Decatur is up and coming and and glad to see it. Loved your stadium.


December 7th, 2012
11:13 am

Simpson a great coach but only had 2 wins overturned this season not 3.Also the math does not add up correctly on his record should be 106-19.

nard dantignac

December 7th, 2012
4:12 pm

kidsballcoach i think nic glass would say different about st spx. be real with yourself, they may not offer scholarships but they do recruit.

Old Golden Lion

December 7th, 2012
4:24 pm

@nard dantignac are you talking about our state championship water polo team? Two time winner ! And we don’t even have a pool !
You need to read the new rules in GHSA before you talk violations. If you had good info you would not waste your time on this blog you would be at GHSA HQ giving your “information”.

Former Warrior

December 7th, 2012
4:42 pm

Wrong again, thank you for the clarification on North Cobb’s 1979 season, you beat me to it