Kemper: No plans to ‘throw the baby out’ at Roswell

Matt Kemper has been a head football coach at eight schools from Ohio to Florida to Georgia, but he’s never had a task like the one he faces at Roswell.

At Johns Creek last season, Kemper led a Fulton County program to its first region title. At Pope in 2011, he won the Cobb school’s first region title since 2000. Both  were 1-9 the season before Kemper arrived.

Contrast that to Roswell, which has won back-to-back region titles with 14-1 finishes that ended with losses in state-championship games.

Kemper was pegged late last week to succeed John Ford, who took the Buford job.

‘’My M.O. has been to come in and fix things,’’ Kemper said. “This isn’t a throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater situation. They couldn’t have been a whole lot more successful. But certain parts of that scenario are going to be consistent. We’re going to work hard and do things with class and honor.’’

The Roswell job does have its challenges, too. Graduating will be quarterback Malik Willis (committed to Auburn), running back Sheldon Evans (5,000 career rushing yards) and defensive backs Xavier McKinney (Alabama) and LeAnthony Williams (Clemson). About 20 starters and 10 of the team’s 11 leading tacklers were seniors.

It was reported in December that one of North Carolina’s best high school quarterbacks, Cordel Littlejohn, would be transferring to Roswell. He threw for 3,655 yards and 50 touchdowns last season and is a cousin of Roswell’s outstanding tight end, Tyniel Hopper.

Kemper’s new players asked him his expectations in their first meeting last week.

‘’I told them this is Roswell High School; we don’t rebuild, we reload maybe,’’ Kemper said. ‘’There will be some young kids that get new opportunities to fill big shoes.’’

Kemper said he plans to meet with each current member of the Roswell coaching staff and wants to have continuity and stability, though he indicated the likelihood that some on the Roswell staff will follow Ford to Buford and some would join Kemper from Johns Creek. No decisions have been announced.

Kemper is the first Roswell coach since 1954  who was not hired from the Roswell staff.

‘’I feel very, very blessed and excited and humbled,’’ Kemper said. “Roswell is a pretty special place. I followed it even before I came to Georgia when looking to move and looking at different schools and situations. I’ve always been in awe of the tradition and community.’’


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