Archive for May, 2013

Koester hired as South Paulding football coach

Ed Koester resigned as South Cobb’s head football coach in January because he wanted to live closer to his home in Cherokee County.

Koester later came up with another solution. He decided to buy a house closer to his job, which is now at South Paulding. Koester was announced as the new head coach of the Spartans this week.

“In the process of looking at jobs that were close to our house, nothing seemed to materialize,’’ Koester said. “I started thinking that I sure am tired walking up and down these stairs in this house. So I opened up the search and decided to relocate to this community. I’m hoping to find a house without so many stairs.’’

Koester replaced Tim Glanton, who started the South Paulding program in 2006. Glanton, who was 29-33 in seven seasons, including 6-4 each of the past three, was hired as an assistant coach at Kennesaw State University.

Koester was 26-27 at South Cobb, including 7-4, 8-4 and 7-3 over his most recent three seasons. South Cobb …

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50 in 50: Martin Luther King Lions

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

They say it is good to save the best for last. Martin Luther King head football coach Cortez Allen hopes that is the case when it comes to the 50-in-50 series.

The Lions are the final team on this year’s list. Allen hopes they are the final team left standing in Class AAAAA, at the end of the playoffs. In just 11 seasons of football M.L. King has established itself as one of the state’s top programs with a record of 105-29, and four region championships, including the 2012 Region 6AAAAA title.

But Allen, in his first year as head coach, wants more.

“That’s why you work so hard, because ultimately, you are working and competing to win a state championship,” Allen said. “Winning region championships is great, an outstanding accomplishment, especially in a region as tough as ours. But ultimately, it’s about winning state championships, making sure your kids graduate and go to college, and become successful men in life. …

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Hebron Christian hires ex-Falcon as football coach

Kevin Shaffer, a former NFL offensive lineman who played his first four seasons in the league with the Falcons, is the new head football coach at Hebron Christian Academy, a private Class A school in Dacula.

Shaffer had been an assistant coach, most recently coaching the offensive line, the past two years at Hebron, or since leaving the NFL. A Pennsylvania native who played at Tulsa, Shaffer played for the Falcons, Browns and Bears in a nine-year career.

Shaffer will replace Sal Battaglia, who was 5-15 in two seasons. Hebron Christian started football in  2007. The team finished 1-9 in 2012, the Lions’ first season of playing a full region schedule. Hebron Christian was 0-7 in Region 8-A.

Hebron has had success in other sports and won a state championship in baseball in 2011.

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Columbia girls coach Frost takes job at Mays

Chantay Frost, who led Columbia’s girls basketball teams to state championships in 2010, 2012 and 2013, is the new head coach at Mays in Atlanta.

DeKalb County athletics coordinator and former Columbia boys coach Phil McCrary confirmed the hire Friday. Frost was not immediately available for comment Friday.

Columbia had never won a state playoff game in its history until Frost – who had never been a high school head coach – arrived in 2008-09. She immediately led the team to the quarterfinals.

Frost’s record at Columbia was 126-26, and her program sent more than a dozen players to college basketball, including Miah Spencer (N.C. State), Destinee Smith (North Florida) and Frost’s youngest daughter, Zuri Frost (Tennessee Tech).

Frost was an assistant at Stone Mountain before coming to Columbia as a teacher only. She remained involved in basketball in assisting with AAU and middle school teams on which her daughters played. When the Columbia job came open, she took …

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10 best HS defensive backs: Deep group led by McDowell, Bessent

Georgia’s crop of outstanding defensive backs is deep this season. A couple of dozen have D-1 scholarship offers.

Here are 10 to watch in 2013.

Some of the more heavily recruited players are not included here as defensive backs because their primary position in high school has been elsewhere. Those include Brooks County’s Malkom Parrish and Creekside’s Evan Berry, both quarterbacks, and Tucker’s Dominick Sanders, a running back.

- Cameron Albright, North Cobb: The top defensive player on a Class AAAAAA semifinal team in 2012, Albright had 40 tackles and returned two interceptions for touchdowns. He also had four touchdowns as a receiver on offense. Recruited as a safety, Albright (6-2, 200) has more than a dozen scholarship offers, including those from Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.

- Allen Artis, Wheeler: Artis’ 109 solo tackles led Cobb County last season. He  helped lead Wheeler to its first playoff appearance since 2006. He was …

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St. Pius star named to USA squad

By Craig Sager II

Score Atlanta

Rising junior Asia Durr led St. Pius to the Class AAA basketball title this season and is considered by many to be the top recruit in the country. The southpaw guard can live in the paint and is lethal with her pull-up jumper. Durr was invited to Colorado Springs May 23-27 to tryout for the 2013 USA Women’s U16 National Team among a field of 124 of the nation’s best players. In the end, Durr was one of 12 to make the final cut.

“There is nothing Asia does that surprises me,” said St. Pius head coach Kyle Snipes. “We knew it would be a huge honor and I expected Asia to go up there and do what Asia does.”

Practice for the 2013 Federal International Basketball Association (FIBA) takes place in early June, and Durr will travel back to Colorado Springs for it. The (FIBA) Americas U16 Championship will be June 19-23 in Cancun, Mexico, with the United States opening play against Brazil. The women’s teams have participated in two prior …

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Basketball hires: Parkview coach leaves ‘best team in the state’

It’s understandable why a coach would want to come to Lambert. The 4-year-old school in Forsyth County just finished fourth overall in Class AAAAAA in the Georgia Athletic Directors Cup standings and won state titles in cheerleading, girls swimming, girls golf and gymnastics.

What made Tony Watkins’ move surprising was the place he left behind. Watkins was 59-2 in two seasons as Parkview’s girls head basketball coach, and he was returning 10 of its top 12 players. Parkview’s only loss last season came in double overtime against eventual state champion Norcross.

“I probably left the best team in the state, no doubt about that,’’ Watkins said. “I certainly hate to leave Parkview. I certainly hate to leave those girls. I love them to death. But it had a lot more to do with just basketball. It was more of a family decision.’’

Off-season coaching changes in basketball don’t get the same attention as football, but there have been a few big ones this year.

Among …

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50 in 50: Sandy Creek

For the the Sandy Creek Patriots, the only real question in 2013 is motivation.

You can talk about the kicking game – the Patriots just graduated Mitchell McMillin, perhaps the best kicker and punter in school history – or the offensive line, where they sustained the biggest losses of any position group.

But they return the bulk of the skilled players who rolled up 660 points and 6,354 total yards in 2012.

So the question is motivation. For that, head coach Chip Walker is leaning on selective memory. He’d like his players to forget 2012. He’d like them to remember 2011, when they fell to Gainesville in the state quarterfinals.

“A lot of these guys started on that 2011 team,” Walker said. “So they remember what it was like. A bunch of those guys played and played a lot. At the spring game when it was over the other day, I was talking to them about preparing for next season. You don’t want that feeling like we had in 2011 to be the last one you have when you walk off …

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East Jackson’s new football coach, athletic director resign as school system faces budget crunch

The financial crisis in the Jackson County school system has cost East Jackson its head football coach and athletics director.

Robert Andrews, former defensive coordinator at Grayson, and Brent Tisdale, Grayson’s former athletics director, resigned last week. Three assistant coaches, including former Dacula defensive coordinator Gary Hughes, also have stepped down, according to various media reports.

The school system recently announced additional furlough days for 2013-14 and other budget-cutting moves, including the closing of an elementary school and the merging of two middle schools.

“It seems like it would be a great place, but with those furloughs and the instability of what the system looks like, I just can’t justify moving out there at this time in my life,” Tisdale told the Jackson Herald. “None of the guys [coaches] we wanted to bring out there we were going to be able to bring on. It’s already hard enough building a football staff and an athletic …

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Former Brookstone coach hired at Towns County

Blair Harrison, the former coach in Brookstone of Columbus who left for a job in Tennessee last year, is back in Georgia.

The Tennessee native has been hired as head coach at Towns County in the north Georgia mountains.

“All their schools are on the same campus,’’ Harrison told the Knoxville News. I’ll get to work with my wife. My kids are going to be on the same campus. The facilities are wonderful. They’ve just never won in football. They think they can, and they’re going to give it one last shot.”

Harrison was head coach at Kingston and led the to a 7-5 finish in his only season. Harrison spent nine seasons at Brookstone and had a record of 73-29. His team advanced to the Class A quarterfinals in 2007.

Towns County has achieved only one winning season (2008) since resuming varsity football in 1975. The school has not played a region schedule since 2005 or won a region game since 1999.

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10 best HS linebackers: Liberty County’s McMillan stands tall

Our look at the top high school football players for the 2013 season resumes today with linebackers.

Remember that these are not recruiting rankings. These are 10 linebackers who have proven themselves at the high school level as underclassmen.

- Bryson Allen-Williams, Cedar Grove: Really more of a defensive end last season, Allen-Williams is being recruited as an outside linebacker. He had 22 tackles for losses in 2012. Allen-Williams (6-1, 215) has committed to South Carolina.

- Daniel Crochet, St. Pius: First-team all-state in 2012, Crochet (6-3, 220) had 106 tackles, 13 for losses, on a Class AAA state runner-up. Has an offer from Syracuse.

- Ed Curney, Creekside: Curney (5-11, 210) had the best season in 2012 of three outstanding Creekside junior linebackers, including more heavily recruited Elliott Berry. Curney had 158 tackles, 18 for losses. He has an offer from Virginia Tech.

- Detrick Dukes, Tucker: Dukes (6-0, 220) had 78 tackles, 11 for losses, and three sacks last …

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Jeff Haws’ Top 10 List

We don’t know about you, but we really don’t know what to do with ourselves in the summer.

Stuck between spring sports and the kickoff of football, it’s just sort of a weird time for us. We mostly just read old List columns from last football season and dream of late August.

It’s also time for us to pack up our collections of pictures, media guides and Herschel Walker bobbleheads here at The List HQ and leave you, our beloved readers.

But before we do that, we wanted to engage once more with a look back at the school year that was and some reminiscing about our 10 favorite things that happened.

10. Basketball semifinals at Tech

This may sound like gushing, but what a cool atmosphere for high school hoops. That new McCamish Pavilion is quite a bit more open and brighter than the old place, and it’s still intimate enough where you don’t feel like you’re in an airplane hangar watching basketball. Georgia Tech got this one right.

9. Buford football back on …

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50-in-50: Carver-Columbus

There will be changes at the top for the Caver-Columbus football team this fall.

There will be new coach and a new quarterback for the program that has produced double-digit wins each season since 2006.

The school hired Joe Kegler as the replacement for coach Dell McGee, who left to take a support position with the Auburn football team. McGee won 88 games and a state championship in eight years at Carver. The Tigers went 15-0 in 2007 and beat Cairo in the title game.

Kegler was an original member of the staff that McGee assembled, first serving as the offensive line coach and then as the offensive coordinator for the last two seasons. Kegler grew up in Columbus and graduated from Carver in 2001. He played football at Fort Valley State and joined the Carver staff in 2001. Being a McGee disciple, it is unlikely that Kegler will shake things up too much.

The other change is at quarterback. Torrance McGee, a starter for the last two seasons, transferred to North Cobb. He will be …

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Baseball: Redan reflects on impact of state title

Redan baseball coach Marvin Pruitt took his players to see the movie “42’’ this spring. It documented Jackie Robinson’s experience of breaking the color barrier in major-league baseball.

Two years prior, Redan’s players spent spring break in Birmingham, where they visited sites of the civil rights movement. Pruitt also showed them 100-year-old Rickwood Field, where Willie Mays once roamed the outfield for the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro League.

“We play on history a great deal at Redan,’’ said Pruitt, whose 425 victories in DeKalb are the most in county history. “We try to instill pride in our kids that they’re furthering their development in baseball because of the lack of African-Americans at the major-league level. We’re losing our kids at a younger age to basketball and football, and we’d just like to build the baseball tradition back up in our community.’’

Redan made history of its own Monday when it became the first all-black …

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Crump leaves Eagle’s Landing for Harrison

By Stephen Black

All good things must come to an end. That is the case at Eagle’s Landing as former boys basketball coach Clay Crump, who had been at the school for 12 years, will be coaching Harrison next year after a wildly successful tenure with the Golden Eagles, which included the 2013 AAAA state championship.

“I just felt like it was a great time to evaluate where I was professionally and with my family, and just thought it was a good time to transition to a new challenge,” said Crump this morning in a phone interview. “I’ve loved Eagle’s Landing and greatly enjoyed coaching these kids, but Harrison is a school with a lot of tradition and community support. That’s very attractive to me.”

Before taking over as head coach, the Valdosta State graduate was an assistant with the boys and girls basketball teams at Eagle’s Landing. He then was tasked with building a winner when given the head coaching reigns of the boys team in 2004-2005. The past four seasons …

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