Profiles of new head coaches: A look at Class AAAA

Number of hires: 15

Best hire: Barney Hester, Howard

Hardest to replace: Olten Downs, Riverdale

Best job: Perry

Toughest job: Therrell

Most interesting: Barney Hester, who won 11 state titles in the Georgia Independent School Association, took the job at Howard, a Macon school that has lost 24 consecutive games.

Region 1

*Americus-Sumter hired Tift County defensive coordinator Reggie Mitchell to replace Chris Wade, who served in the interim in 2012 after the mid-season resignation of Michael Pollock. Mitchell, a former Valdosta player who won two state titles under Nick Hyder, has been a head coach at Albany (2006-08) and Sherwood Christian Academy (2009-10). Americus-Sumter lost its final five games last season and finished 4-6.

*Worth County hired Camden County running backs coach Jason Tone to replace Scott Ward, who landed at Fitzgerald as linebackers coach. Tone has been on Camden’s staff since 2007. He was offensive coordinator at Wayne County in 2006. He coached at his alma mater, Lowndes, as a community coach or staff coach from 1999 to 2005 and was part of two state championship teams. Tone’s high school coach, Milt Miller at Lowndes, led Worth County to a state championship in 1987.

Region 2

*Howard, a Macon public school that has lost 24 consecutive games, hired Tattnall Square head coach Barney Hester, who won 11 state titles in the GISA, mostly with Tattnall. Hester’s 322 victories rank fifth in Georgia history. Hester, who first was a head coach in 1974 right out of Georgia Southern, replaces David Cape, who was winless in his two seasons.

*Perry hired Turner County coach Erik Soliday to replace Stacey Harden, who was forced out in April. Soliday was 54-46 in nine seasons at Turner County. His teams won 10 games in 2006 and 2008. Soliday previously coached at Americus and won state titles in 2000 and 2001. Harden’s record was 19-14 record with three playoff appearances in his three seasons.

Region 3

*Cross Creek promoted junior varsity coach and varsity assistant Robert McCarty to replace Travis Nixon, who was 9-21 in three seasons and 3-7 in 2012. McCarty has coached at Cross Creek for seven seasons and at a local middle school the previous three years. Nixon found out about his firing from his players, according to the Augusta Chronicle. “It wasn’t the best scenario in the world,” he said.

*Glenn Hills hired Butler offensive coordinator Tim McClain to replace Andrew Young, who resigned after three seasons (9-21 record) and became assistant principal at South Aiken (S.C.). McClain was at Butler, his alma mater, for two seasons and at Laney coaching the defensive line for three years.

Region 4

*Dutchtown hired Lovejoy defensive coordinator Kevin Jones to replace Jason Galt, who left to be head coach at North Forsyth. Lovejoy’s defenses under Jones posted 15 shutouts in the past three seasons en route to two state championship games. Before coming to Lovejoy, Jones was head coach for one season at Riverdale (7-3 in 2006). He also was an assistant coach at Clarkston, Columbia and his alma mater, Redan.

*North Clayton hired former Chamblee head coach James Soza, who was quarterbacks coach last season at Southwest DeKalb, to replace Max Wiltz, who was 9-12 in two seasons. Wiltz is now offensive coordinator at Washington. Soza, a Tulsa native, came to Georgia out of Yale and was an assistant at Carver of Atlanta before taking the Chamblee job in 2010. Chamblee was 2-8 and 4-6 in Soza’s two seasons. North Clayton’s 2-8 finish last season was the Clayton County school’s first losing record since 2003.

*Riverdale hired Dutchtown defensive coordinator Terry Herrod to replace Olten Downs, who became head coach at Creekside. Downs was 11-10 in two seasons and put Riverdale in the playoffs last season for the first time since 2005. Herrod, like Downs a Columbus native, was Dutchtown’s head boys basketball coach in 2012-13 but made a name as a defensive specialist in football as his 2010 Dutchtown team led Class AAAA in scoring defense.

Region 6

*Banneker promoted head JV and secondary coach Ryan Andrews to replace Tony Slaton. Andrews is a Banneker alumnus and longtime assistant. He was a running back and defensive back at Chattanooga. Banneker was 6-4 and 4-6 in two seasons under Slaton. The school’s last playoff appearance came in 2009 (7-4).

*South Atlanta hired Newton linebackers coach Kevin Hill to replace Julius Moses, who achieved the school’s first non-losing season (5-5) in 16 years in 2011 and was 11-29 in four seasons. Moses landed at Washington, where he is the defensive coordinator. Hill has been the offensive coordinator at Westlake (2009-10) and defensive coordinator at Columbia (2009). He also has had coaching stops in his native Miami and was on the staff for Gulliver Prep’s Class 2A state runner-up team in 2008. South Atlanta originally hired Mays assistant Jeremy Gainer for the position, but they parted ways, and Hill got the job in mid-May.

*Therrell hired Mays coach Dominic Callaway to replace Dallas Allen, who was 1-9 in one season. Callaway was 35-18 in five seasons at Mays but released after a 5-5 finish in 2012, his only non-winning season.

Region 7

*LaFayette hired Gordon Central coach Chad Fisher to replace Tab Gable. Fisher was 28-34 in six seasons at Gordon Central. He started 0-10 and finished 8-3. Fisher also has coached in college at Tusculum and Mars Hill (his alma mater) and in high school at Ringgold and Wheeler. Gable was 11-19 in three seasons.

Region 8

*Lumpkin County hired Decatur coach Brad Waggoner to replace Tommy Jones, who took the head job at Dacula. Waggoner was 5-5 in his only season at Decatur. He said he made the move because Lumpkin County offered a counseling job for his wife, who had been commuting 95 miles to Chattooga, where Waggoner previously was head coach and was 18-13 in three seasons. A Landmark Christian graduate and former player at Georgia Tech and Liberty University, Waggoner also was head coach at Crescent City in Florida and Luverne and Pike County in Alabama.

*Walnut Grove hired Putnam County coach Ben Reaves to replace O.J. Soto, who resigned citing health reasons. Reaves led Putnam County to three consecutive seasons of at least eight victories for the first time since 1971-73. A former Valdosta player under Nick Hyder, Reeves also was head coach at Social Circle (1993-97) and Newton (1998-2006).

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One comment Add your comment

Jordan Hill

August 15th, 2013
2:27 pm