Profiling the championship game coaches


Keith Maloof, Norcross

High school: St. Pius

College: West Georgia

Record: 142-61 (.700)

State titles: 1 (2012 Norcross)

Background: Maloof coached at West Georgia, Loganville, Meadowcreek and Dacula before getting his first head coaching job at Tucker in 1996. In 1999, he came to Norcross, where he has won four region titles and has a record of 120-50.

Noteworthy: Maloof is the son of George Maloof, St. Pius’ coach for 26 years. Maloof’s brother, Kevin, also was a head coach for 26 seasons, most notably at Dacula, and retired in 2011. Keith Maloof and George Maloof make up one of only three combinations of fathers and sons to win state titles in Georgia.

Bob Sphire, North Gwinnett

High school: Meade County (Ky.)

College: Eastern Kentucky

Record: 237-69 (.775)

State titles: 1

Background: Sphire was head coach at Lexington Catholic in Kentucky from 1991 to 2005 and had a record of 140-39 and won a state title in 2005, the season before coming to North Gwinnett. He is 91-14 at North. Only Camden County (93-13) has more victories in the highest classification in that time.

Noteworthy: While at Lexington Catholic in his native state of Kentucky, Sphire also was head coach of the Lexington Horsemen of the Indoor National Football League for two seasons and won the league championship in 2004.


Bryan Lamar, Tucker

High school: Tucker

College: UT-Chattanooga

Record: 24-3 (.889)

State titles: 0

Background: Lamar returned to his alma mater in 2004 to coach the middle school team before rising to the position of defensive coordinator in 2007. In 2011, Lamar left become the boys basketball head coach at Stockbridge but returned to replace Franklin Stephens in 2012.

Noteworthy: Lamar played on Tucker’s 1999 basketball team that reached the state final and was a top assistant on Tucker’s 2007 state championship basketball team. In football, Lamar was a safety. His final high school game was a 27-22 loss to Creekside in the 1998 playoffs. Lamar’s head coach was Keith Maloof, who is in the state finals this season with Norcross.

Olten Downs, Creekside

High school: Shaw

College: Tennessee State

Record: 25-10 (.714)

State titles: 0

Background: Downs was defensive coordinator at Carver of Columbus from 2006 through 2010, during which his teams were 62-8. Carver won a state championship in 2007. Downs got his first head-coaching job at Riverdale and was 13-10 in two seasons. The 7-4 finish in 2012 was the school’s first winning season since 2006.

Noteworthy: Downs’ brother, Gary, is the head coach at Riverside Military and is a former Falcons player. They are from Columbus. Olten Downs played on Shaw’s 2000 state championship team. It has happened no more than a dozen times that someone has won state titles as a player and head coach in Georgia, recently with Eric Parker (Mitchell-Baker, Burke County) and Hal Lamb (Commerce, Calhoun).

Class AAAA

Rayvan Teague, Carrollton

High school: Chattanooga Valley

College: UT-Chattanooga

Record: 220-68-1 (.763)

State titles: 1 (2000 Swainsboro)

Background: Teague was head coach at LaFayette (1990-93) and Swainsboro (1994-2001) before getting the Carrollton job in 2001. He has led the Trojans to the quarterfinals or better seven times and reached the state finals in 2010. Teague’s first coaching job was as an assistant at Henry County (1985-86). He was the offensive coordinator for Clarke Central’s 1989 state runner-up team.

Noteworthy: This will be Teague’s second shot at winning a state title at a second school. Only 14 head coaches have done that in the GHSA. Franklin Stephens of Lamar County and formerly of Tucker also has that opportunity this season.

Steve Devoursney, Griffin

High school: R.E. Lee

College: Georgia Southern

Record: 128-41 (.757)

State titles: 0

Background: Devoursney came to Griffin as an assistant in 1996 and was defensive coordinator in 2000, when he got the head coaching job in midseason when the head coach was let go. Before Griffin, Devoursney had coached two seasons for Georgia Military’s junior college team.

Noteworthy: Devoursney was a starting defensive tackle on R.E. Lee’s 1988 state championship team. He and Creekside’s Olten Downs this season can join a small list of those who have won Georgia state titles as players and head coaches.

Class AAA

Jess Simpson, Buford

High school: Marietta

College: Auburn

Record: 122-18 (.871)

State titles: 5 (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 Buford)

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 last 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 122-5.

Joel Ingram, Washington County

High school: Arab (Ala.)

College: Jacksonville State

Record: 71-23-1 (.753)

State titles: 0

Background: Ingram came to Washington County in 2001 after a season with his college alma mater, Jacksonville State. He became offensive coordinator in 2002. Ingram became the Golden Hawks’ head coach in 2006 when Rick Tomberlin, who had led them to four state titles, left for Valdosta.

Noteworthy: Ingram was a four-year starting center at Jacksonville State (1995-98) and made the all-conference team. As a senior, he was voted Mr. Jax State by the student body.

Class AA

Franklin Stephens, Lamar County

High school: Burke County

College: Georgia Southern

Record: 90-7-1 (.923)

State titles: 2 (2008, 2011 Tucker)

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 197-36-2.

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

Mike Muschamp, Lovett

High school: Gainesville (Fla.)

College: Duke

Record: 115-60 (.657)

State titles: 0

Background: Muschamp was an assistant for seven seasons at Darlington, then tried college ball with stints at West Georgia, Mars Hill and Millsaps before getting the Savannah Country Day head coaching job in 2000. He has been at Lovett since 2005 and led the Lions to the semifinals or better five times.

Noteworthy: Muschamp is the brother of Florida head coach Will Muschamp. The two have deep roots in Rome as their father, Larry, is a former head coach at East Rome and headmaster at Darlington. Mike was a backup quarterback at Duke.

Class A (public)

Rich McWhorter, Charlton County

High school: Effingham (Ill.)

College: Eastern Illinois

Record: 251-60-2 (.805)

State titles: 4 (1999, 2004, 2005, 2006 Charlton County)

Background: McWhorter came to Folkston out of college and was an assistant coach for two seasons. He got the head coaching job in 1990 and immediately led the school to its first winning season since 1979. He has won 15 region titles.

Noteworthy: McWhorter can become the seventh coach in state history to win five GHSA championships.

Mike Swaney, Marion County

High school: Taylor County

College: Georgia Southwestern

Record: 42-7 (.857)

State titles: 0

Background: Swaney came to Marion County in 2009 to be the defensive coordinator under his former college roommate and high school teammate, Bill Montgomery. Swaney became the head coach after one season. He had been defensive coordinator at Westside of Macon and also coached at R.E. Lee, Upson-Lee, Taylor County and Montgomery County. He did his student teaching in 1985 at Tri-County High, which later became Marion County.

Noteworthy: Swaney was an assistant coach on R.E. Lee’s 1988 state championship team. One of its players, Steve Devoursney, is in the state finals this season with Griffin.

Class A (private)

James Leonard, Aquinas

High school: Aquinas

College: Augusta State

Record: 13-0 (1.000)

State titles: 0

Background: Leonard was a center and defensive end at Aquinas before going off to Augusta State. He has coached only at Aquinas, and this is his first season as head coach. His grandfather, Denny Leonard, was head coach for 21 seasons at Aquinas and its predecessor school, Boys’ Catholic.

Noteworthy: Leonard turned 26 in April and is believed to be the youngest head coach in Georgia. He could become the first first-time coach to complete an undefeated season in Georgia since the 1950s.

Mark Stroud, Calvary Day

High school: Swainsboro

College: Georgia College

Record: 166-81 (.672)

State titles: 0

Background: Stroud coached baseball and football at his high school alma mater before getting his first head coaching job in 1992 at Toombs County. He went to the state quarterfinals four times with a program that had not made the playoffs until he arrived. Stroud became Calvary Day’s head coach in 2007.

Noteworthy: Stroud played baseball in the NAIA College World Series in 1984 and 1985 at Georgia College. As a senior, he was a captain and had five triples on a team that finished 54-15-2.

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9 comments Add your comment

Calvary Cavs Fan

December 10th, 2013
9:20 am

Very impressive of coach Leonard from Aquinas. 26 and already doing big things. I hope he has continued success and a long career at Aquinas or wherever he chooses.


December 10th, 2013
1:07 pm

Wow, nice job on info.


December 10th, 2013
1:13 pm

Charlton’s McWhorter can become the 7th coach to win 5 or more GHSA football championships. Who would be the other 6? I will guess Bazemore, Hyder,Campbell, Pilcher, Grisham, and …

hit a single

December 10th, 2013
7:42 pm

Good luck to Coach Mark Stroud and his Calvary Day Cavaliers. He is a class act and does a super job.


December 11th, 2013
12:35 am

bob sphire for president


December 11th, 2013
4:22 am

Correction, Sphire has 92 wins in GA after beating McEachern last Friday.

Bob Sphire will get his 100 win, as a coach in georgia, next season during the regular season. That’s INSANE considering the type of players he always has. If NG wins Saturday, and the NG goes 7-0 to start next season, Sphire will be right at 100 wins. That’s hypothetical, but nothing NG hasn’t consistently done in the last 8 seasons.. Regardless, he will hit the 100 win mark before the end of the regular season next year. That’s 100 wins in less than 9 full seasons.

Does anyone know of a coach in the highest classification that has reached 100 wins that fast?


December 11th, 2013
4:23 am


December 11th, 2013
8:11 am

@NGHS 09– On Coach Sphire’s record they were counting his wins in Kentucky in the total. Some other interesting facts to note about Coach Sphire’s record, When he arrived at NG the school had an overall record of 182-255-9. Adding in his record in the past 8 seasons the school now has a record of 273-269-9. Also, until this season, NG had never had a cumulative record of better than .500 and that was when they were 0-0. NG lost their first game in 1961 and has not been at or above .500 since. One other note, Counting his last 8 seasons in Kentucky he has won at least 10 games per year for 16 years and not lost more than 3 games in any of those seasons!

Middle GA Dawg

December 12th, 2013
7:53 am

Coach Kevin Kinsler of Northside Warner Robins is 46-5 in only 4 seasons as a head coach. They play in AAAAA but those statistics are impressive nonetheless.