Two former NFL stars among 19 new head coaches in Class A
GHSF Daily has been chronicling the many coaching changes in the offseason. We conclude today with Class A.
Number of hires: 19
Best hire: Tony Welch, Claxton
Hardest to replace: Robby Robinson, McIntosh County Academy
Best job: Calvary Day
Toughest job: Baconton Charter
Most interesting: A couple of former All-Pro NFL players got jobs – former Falcons receiver Terance Mathis at Pinecrest Academy and center Jeff Saturday at Hebron Christian. Both are DeKalb County Schools graduates, Mathis from Redan, Saturday from Shamrock. Providence Christian hired the state’s youngest head coach, Parker Conley, 24. But the biggest offseason news in Class A was the March resignation of Robby Robinson, who last season led McIntosh County Academy to the public-school championship game, MCA’s best finish in history. Robinson was indicated in an alleged hazing incident that occurred in August. MCA promoted defensive coordinator Terel Toomer to the head job.
*Baconton Charter hired Harris County defensive coordinator Randy Grace to replace Johnny Hayes, who retired. Grace has been head coach at Montgomery County (1999-00), Crisp Academy (2005-06), Pacelli (2011-14) and Wheeler County (2015). Baconton, which started football in 2010, has never won more than three games in a season.
*Mitchell County hired Long County offensive coordinator Deshon Brock to replace Larry Cornelius, who took the head coaching job at Lakewood High in Sumter, S.C. Cornelius’s Mitchell County teams were 30-24 in five seasons. Brock coached at Long County for 13 seasons and most notably was the boys basketball coach. He won 186 games and two region titles in that sport.
*Pataula Charter promoted assistant coach Matt Fowler to replace Trey Harrell. Fowler has been at Pataula for three seasons and previously worked as a junior college baseball coach. Harrell is now teaching in Thomas County. Pataula, located in Calhoun County, was 1-6 in its first varsity season last year.
*Randolph-Clay promoted defensive coordinator Harvey Smith to replace Daniel McFather, who took the job at Southwest Georgia Academy, a GISA school in Damascus.
*Atkinson County hired Carl McGowan to replace David Parker. McGowan was Atkinson County’s girls basketball coach from 2000 to 2007 and won three region titles and was Class A runner-up in 2006. He was also the school’s offensive coordinator in 2005 and 2006. He was out of coaching until last season, when he became Ware County’s chief assistant girls basketball coach. Parker, who was 6-14 in two seasons, is now on the staff at Clinch County.
*Turner County hired Tift County defensive backs coach Leroy Hood to replace Ben Simmons, who took the Worth County job. Hood had been an assistant coach in Arkansas for seven years and came to Georgia to join another Arkansas native, Ashley Anders, at Tift. Turner County was 8-4 last season.
*Calvary Day re-hired Swainsboro head coach Mark Stroud to replace Rick Tomberlin, who resigned after one season, citing health concerns. Stroud was 67-25 at Calvary from 2008 to 2015, then went to Swainsboro, which finished 4-7 last year. Calvary Day was 10-1 under Tomberlin, the former Washington County and Valdosta coach who came out of four-year retirement last season.
*Claxton hired Savannah coach Tony Welch, a Claxton alumnus, to replace Rodrick Williams. Welch led the Blue Jackets to their first winning season since 1993. Before coming to Savannah in 2014, Welch was offensive coordinator for three GISA state-championship teams at Savannah’s Memorial Day, which also had struggled before Welch’s arrival. Williams, who was 9-21 in three seasons at Claxton, is now defensive coordinator at Warren County.
*McIntosh County Academy promoted defensive coordinator Terel Toomer to replace Robby Robinson, who was forced out over allegations of hazing after leading the coastal Georgia school to its first state-title game. Toomer also has been an assistant at Gordon Central and Washington-Wilkes. His defense at McIntosh County Academy allowed just 12.5 points per game last season.
*Brookstone hired Blair Harrison, its coach from 2003 to 2011, to replace Scott Pethtel, who became head coach at Muncie Central in Indiana. Harrison has been at four schools in three states since leaving Brookstone, most recently at Hardaway as offensive coordinator. He also was head coach at Towns County for one season. He was 73-29 at Brookstone. Pethtel was 10-12 in his two seasons.
*Pacelli promoted Mark LeGree, an alumnus and former NFL player, to replace Buster Connally, who had served as interim head coach and will remain as athletics director. LeGree signed contracts with eight NFL teams from 2001 to 2003, although never stuck. He played two seasons in the CFL with Saskatchewan and entered coaching last season.
*Holy Innocents’ hired Pinecrest Academy head coach Todd Winter to replace Ryan Livezey. Winter’s record in five seasons at Pinecrest was 35-19. Holy Innocents’ was 5-6 last season under Ryan Livezey, who started the program in 2006. Livezey has joined the staff at Mount Pisgah Christian.
*Mount Zion of Carroll County promoted defensive coordinator Brad Gordon to replace Keith Holloway, who retired after 30 years of coaching. Mount Zion’s records of 8-4, 8-4 and 9-2 the past three seasons are the three best in program history. Gordon is a graduate of nearby Central High.
*Pinecrest Academy hired former Falcons star wide receiver Terance Mathis to replace Todd Winter, who took the Holy Innocents’ job. Mathis was a community coach on Lambert’s staff last season. He was offensive coordinator at Savannah State in 2011 and 2012. He has coached camps, 7-on-7 tournaments and all-star games. Mathis played 13 seasons in the NFL, eight with the Falcons, with whom he was an All-Pro selection in 1994. Pinecrest was 35-19 in five seasons with Winter, 8-4 last season.
*Twiggs County promoted defensive coordinator Zackery Harris to replace Ashley Harden, who took the Northeast job in Macon. Harris had been at Hancock Central from 2001 through 2015, the final eight seasons as head coach with a 24-57 record.
*Washington-Wilkes hired Northside of Warner Robins offensive coordinator Chad Alligood to replace Jacob Kelley. Alligood has been Northside’s OC since 2010. He has coached at Perry and First Presbyterian. Kelley is now offensive coordinator at Cedartown.
*Hebron Christian promoted offensive coordinator Jeff Saturday, a 14-year former NFL player, to replace Kevin Shaffer. Saturday had worked for two seasons at Hebron under Shaffer, another former NFL player, who resigned. Hebron was 5-6 last season and reached the state playoffs for the first time. Saturday played in six Pro Bowls and was the center for 13 seasons for Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. Shaffer remains at Hebron in a fundraising capacity and coaches his son’s fourth-grade team there.
*Providence Christian promoted JV coach Parker Conley to replace Ken Robinson. Conley, at 24 the youngest head football coach in the GHSA, is a Norcross graduate and a tight end on Florida State’s 2013 national-championship team. His grandfather, Bill Conley, was the longtime athletics director at Lovett and head coach of Lovett’s 1970 state-championship team. Providence, a Gwinnett County private school, has won one game in three full varsity seasons. Robinson is now an assistant at North Oconee.
*Riverside Military hired Santa Clara (Oxnard, Calif.) head coach Nicholas Garrett to replace Kelly Davis, who became defensive coordinator at Cedar Shoals. Garrett won a conference title last season at Santa Clara and spent the previous 11 years on the college level at Bethel College, Western New Mexico, Kansas Wesleyan and East L.A. Junior College.
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