GHSF Daily is chronicling the many coaching changes in the offseason. We continue today with Class AAAAA.
Number of hires: 18
Best hire: John Ford, Buford
Hardest to replace: Jess Simpson, Buford
Best job: Buford
Toughest job: Lithia Springs
Most interesting: Jess Simpson, who led Buford to seven state titles and a still-active state-record streak of 10 state finals, resigned on Dec. 16 to join Georgia State’s staff. That was just a week after the Class AAAAA championship game, which Buford lost to Rome. Buford moved quickly, hiring Roswell’s John Ford on Jan. 9. Then on Feb. 13, Simpson was on the move again, hired by the Atlanta Falcons as a defensive-line assistant. Simpson’s record at Buford was 164-12 in 12 seasons.
*Statesboro hired Tattnall County head coach Jeff Kaiser, an alumnus, to replace Steve Pennington, who became head coach at Southeast Bulloch. Kaiser’s Tattnall teams were 62-55 in 11 seasons. Kaiser was on Statesboro’s staff in 1996 and 2001-03, including the 2001 state-championship team. He also has assisted at Gainesville, West Laurens and Perry. Statesboro had six 10-win seasons under Pennington, including a 15-0 mark in 2005, but was 4-26 over the past three seasons, prompting the change.
*Wayne County hired Bluffton (S.C.) head coach Ken Cribb to replace Derek Chastain, who returned to Camden County as an assistant. Cribb’s record was 63-26 in seven seasons at Bluffton, which was 12-1 in 2016, won three region titles and was state runner-up in 2011 under Cribb. Wayne County was 3-8 last season in Chastain’s only campaign.
*Dutchtown hired Brooks County offensive coordinator Clifford Fedd to replace Mark Myers, who became head coach at Riverwood. Fedd is a former Valdosta State player who brought the spread offense to Brooks County in 2012, using it most productively with Malkom Parrish. Myers was 15-15 in his three seasons at Dutchtown.
*Union Grove hired Villa Rica head coach Chad Frazier to replace Craig Melton. Frazier’s record is 54-51 at Villa Rica and Salem. Frazier is a Macon native who played at Valdosta State. Union Grove was 2-17-1 in two seasons under Melton, who is now teaching at Ola and not coaching.
*Woodland of Stockbridge hired Lamar County head coach Bryan Love to replace Steve Davenport, who took the South Gwinnett job. Love was 6-5 in one season at Lamar. He is better known for building up Westlake, which was 0-10 in 2012 but 10-3 in Love’s third season. Love also has served as defensive coordinator during stops at Shiloh (2012), Camden County (2008-11), McEachern (2003-07) and Spruce Creek (2000-02).
*Columbia hired Towers head coach Brian Montgomery to replace David Edwards, who took the Lithonia job. Montgomery, a Banneker graduate, has a 26-44 record in seven seasons at Towers, Shiloh and North Atlanta, places that historically struggle. Edwards was 25-27 in five seasons at Columbia.
*Lithonia hired Columbia head coach David Edwards to replace Marcus Jelks. Edwards’ Columbia teams were 25-27 in five seasons. Edwards is a Columbia alumnus who played in the NFL with the Steelers. Jelks’ Lithonia record in six seasons was 34-38. Jelks is now on Stephenson’s staff.
*Southwest DeKalb hired Starr’s Mill assistant Damien Wimes, an alumnus, to replace Fletcher Salter, the interim coach after the 2016 preseason death of head coach Michael Tanks. Wimes was head coach at Miller Grove for the six previous seasons. His teams were 30-30. Salter remains on Southwest DeKalb’s staff.
*Banneker hired Mario Allen to replace Marvell McKelphin. Allen, a former standout quarterback at Florida A&M, has been a head coach at Columbia (2009-11) and was an assistant at Newnan, Morrow and others. He was at Campbell last season as head baseball coach. He did not coach football.
*Decatur promoted defensive coordinator Cody Cory to replace Scott Jackson, who joined Flowery Branch’s staff. Cory came two years ago from Texas, where he was an assistant at Crockett, North Mesquite, Prineton and Highland Park. Decatur was 20-20 in four seasons under Jackson, 1-9 last season.
*Lithia Springs promoted offensive coordinator Kevin Hill to replace Jason Dukes, who was 1-9 in one season. Hill, a former Florida A&M player, was South Atlanta’s coach from 2013 to 2015. He has been an assistant at Westlake, Columbia and Newton. Dukes is now assistant head coach and defensive line coach at Catholic High in Baton Rouge, La.
*North Springs promoted offensive coordinator Scotty Parker to replace Dan Devine, who resigned to become athletics director at Alpharetta. Parker, who also headed up North Springs’ strength program, has been offensive coordinator at Lithia Springs and Alexander and head coach of Stewart Middle School. In one season under Devine, North Springs was 6-5 and had its first winning season and playoff appearance since 1998.
*Riverwood hired Dutchtown head coach Mark Myers to replace Ben Stready. Myers’ Dutchtown teams were 5-5 in each of his three seasons. Myers, a former starting receiver on a Georgia Southern national-championship team, previously had assisted at Stockbridge, North Atlanta, Hiram and his alma mater, McEachern.
*Kell hired Walton assistant Brett Sloan to replace Derek Cook, who resigned to seek other opportunities in education. Sloan was the assistant offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Walton for the past two seasons. Sloan has been an assistant at Byrnes and Chapman high schools in his native South Carolina. Cook was 89-23 at Kell, which reached the playoffs in all nine of Cook’s seasons, won four region titles and made two semifinal appearances.
*East Paulding hired Sprayberry head coach Billy Shackelford to replace Jon Lindsey, who took the Appling County job. Shackelford’s record in 10 seasons at Sprayberry, his alma mater, was 51-53, including 6-4 in 2016. Sprayberry had won only 25 games in the previous 10 years under five head coaches.
*Villa Rica hired Georgia Southern recruiting coordinator Rico Zackery to replace Chad Frazier, who took the Union Grove job. Zackery was the head coach at Carroll County rival Central the previous three seasons and compiled a 30-6 record at a program that was 9-21 over the previous three seasons.
*Buford hired Roswell head coach John Ford to replace Jess Simpson. Ford, a Brookwood graduate, led Roswell to 14-1 records and state runner-up finishes each of the past two seasons and was 40-12 in four seasons. Simpson is now on the Atlanta Falcons’ staff.
*Flowery Branch hired Jefferson head coach Ben Hall to replace Chris Griffin. Hall led Jefferson to the Class AAAA semifinals in 2016 and was 44-8 in four seasons. Hall was the offensive coordinator on Jefferson’s 2012 state-championship team. Hall was Flowery Branch’s offensive line coach in 2008. Griffin is now coaching Collins Hill’s secondary.
Coming Friday: Class AAAA
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