Houston County, Creekside among 14 Class AAAAAA schools with new coaches

(Jason Getz / AJC)

GHSF Daily is chronicling the many coaching changes in the offseason. We continue today with Class AAAAAA.

Number of hires: 14

Best hire: Matt Helmerich, Johns Creek

Hardest to replace: Von Lassiter, Houston County

Best job: Creekside

Toughest job: Osborne

Most interesting: Von Lassiter, the head coach and athletics director of Houston County during the Jake Fromm era, went home to Bleckley County, where he’ll hold the same professional titles. That’s four classifications lower, not to mention 20 victories fewer the past three seasons, but Lassiter and his wife, Kelly, and three boys ages 15, 10 and 8 will be living right across the street from Lassiter’s childhood home and his mother’s residence in Cochran. ”To be able to let my kids do the same things I did when I was growing up,” Lassiter told Seth Ellerbee of ajc.com, “that is big.”

Region 1

*Houston County promoted defensive coordinator Ryan Crawford to replace Von Lassiter, who took the job at Bleckley County, his alma mater. Crawford, a former Griffin and Valdosta State player, was on the staff at Northside of Warner Robins from 2005 to 2012, including the 2006 and 2007 state-championship teams that went 15-0.

Region 2

*Bradwell Institute hired Windsor Forest defensive coordinator Ross Couch to replace Greg Hill. Couch had been on Bradwell’s staff in 2014 and 2015 and was previously defensive coordinator and girls basketball coach at Swainsboro. Bradwell was 3-6-1 last season after consecutive 0-10 campaigns. Hill is now offensive coordinator at Statesboro.

*Brunswick hired Pierce County head coach Sean Pender to replace Larry Harold, who took the job at Central of Macon. Pender led Pierce to three 10-win seasons and two quarterfinal finishes. His 2016 team was 9-4 behind all-state quarterback Stetson Bennett. Pender also has been a head coach at Brantley County (2002-09) and Crisp County (2010). Brunswick was 3-7 and 5-5 under Harold.

Region 4

*Forest Park hired Bessemer City (Ala.) head coach Martez Edwards to replace Dale Myers. Edwards’ Bessemer teams were 30-18 in four seasons. He was head coach for two seasons prior at Jackson Central-Merry in Tennessee. He has been on the staffs at Howard University and Jackson State.

*M.L. King hired Lithonia defensive coordinator Deante Lamar to replace Nicolas Kashama, who was 9-21 in three seasons. Lamar, a Lithonia graduate, is a former defensive back at Memphis. He coached strength and conditioning and the secondary his first two seasons at Lithonia. Kashama is now defensive coordinator at Georgia Prep Sports Academy.

Region 5

*Creekside hired Drew offensive coordinator Maurice Dixon, a Creekside alumnus, to replace Will Rogers. Dixon was a member of Creekside’s 2000 team that reached the Class AAAA semifinals and later played at Bethune-Cookman and in the Arena Football League. Rogers was 13-8 in two seasons, 5-5 in 2016. He is now defensive coordinator at Dutchtown.

*Northgate promoted offensive coordinator Kelsey Dalrymple to replace Tommy Walburn, who retired. Dalrymple has been with Northgate since 2010. He coached prior at Troup and Crisp County, also under Walburn, who was 114-67 in 16 seasons as a head coach, 9-3 last year at Northgate.

Region 6

*Osborne hired Walton running backs and strength coach Richard “R.C.” Helton to replace Troy Jones, who remained as athletics director and assistant principal. Helton, a Tennessee native, played college football in Arizona, then worked 18 years in the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office. He then spent seven seasons on football sidelines in Arizona, the last three as head coach of Trevor Browne in Phoenix. Helton came home to Tennessee in 2014 and was head coach of Whitwell, a program that averaged fewer than three wins over the previous two decades. Under Helton, Whitwell went 12-11 in two seasons and made its first playoff appearance since 2005.

*Sprayberry hired Etowah defensive coordinator Brett Vavra, an alumnus, to replace Billy Shackelford, who took the East Pauling job. Vavra has coached at Etowah (2012-16), Sprayberry (2007-11), North Cobb (2006) and South Cobb (2005). Sprayberry was 51-53 under Shackelford, 6-4 last season.

*South Cobb hired Grady offensive coordinator Terry Jones to replace Tommy Macon, who led the team for the final two games on an interim basis for Sherrod Rainge. Jones is a former NFL and all-SEC player at Alabama. He was an assistant at Tucker from 2007 to 2012 (part of the 2011 state-championship team) and helped Grady to a region title last season.

Region 7

*Centennial hired Coffee offensive coordinator Michael Perry to replace Lenny Gregory, who took the Collins Hill job. Perry was Gainesville’s offensive coordinator from 2011 to 2015, including the 2012 state-championship team that set scoring and passing records with Deshaun Watson.

*Johns Creek hired Fort Pierce Central (Fla.) head coach Matt Helmerich to replace Matt Kemper, who took the Roswell job. Helmerich was the defensive coordinator at St. Thomas Aquinas from 2010 to 2015, during which Aquinas won four state titles and one mythical national championship and produced 101 college signees. Helmerich’s Fort Pierce team was 6-3 last season. Johns Creek was 8-3 and won its first region title last season.

*Northview hired UCLA offensive quality-control assistant James Thomson to replace Chad Davenport. Thomson was head coach at Cornerstone Charter, Gainesville and DeLand in Florida before working for a season with UCLA’s quarterbacks under his uncle, UCLA offensive coordinator Kennedy Polamalu. Thomson was Florida’s Class 6A coach of the year in 2012. Davenport’s record at Northview was 27-45 in seven seasons. Davenport is now offensive coordinator at West Forsyth.

*Pope hired Mount Paran Christian offensive coordinator Tab Griffin, a Pope alumnus, to replace Kyle Adkins, who took the Campbell job. Griffin was on Pope’s staff from 2001 until moving to Mount Paran to help start that program in 2008. He was part of Mount Paran’s 2014 state-championship team. Pope was 3-7 last season.

Coming Thursday: Class AAAAA

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