Two Athens schools among 16 in Class AAAAA with new coaches
GHSF Daily is chronicling the many coaching changes in the offseason. We continue today with Class AAAAA.
Number of hires: 16
Best hire: Sean Calhoun, Carrollton
Hardest to replace: Amos McCreary, Whitewater
Best job: Carrollton
Toughest job: Cross Keys
Most interesting: David Perno led the University of Georgia to three College World Series appearances as a head baseball coach. He was fired in 2013. Neither he nor Clarke Central figured his next coaching job would be in football. Perno played fullback on Clarke Central’s 1985 state-championship football team under Billy Henderson. Among Perno’s top assistants is Michael Gunn, who was 194-72-1 at Athens Academy before stepping away from the game, also in 2013.
*Harris County promoted defensive coordinator Zac Howard to replace Dwight Jones, who took the head coaching position at Russell County in Alabama. Howard has worked at Harris County for 11 seasons, the past nine as coordinator. Jones was 9-3 and 2-8 in his two seasons.
*Warner Robins hired Houston County offensive coordinator Mike Chastain to replace Bryan Way, who retired after 12 seasons as the Demons’ head coach. Chastain, a Northside (Warner Robins) graduate, has assisted at Warner Robins’ three major rivals – Northside (2002-04), Veterans (2011-12) and Houston County (2013-15). Houston County was 28-9 in Chastain’s three seasons of running the offense. Warner Robins was 92-48-1 in 12 seasons under Way, an alumnus who had been with the program since the 1980s, and won a state title in his first season, 2004. The Demons were 7-4 in 2015.
*New Hampstead, a 2-year-old school in Savannah, hired Phillip Richards to replace Bernard Gaither, who started the program and was 7-3 against a non-region schedule last season. Richards had been the offensive coordinator at Montgomery County. Gaither resigned in December to have more time with family and remained at the school.
*Wayne County hired Camden County assistant coach Derek Chastain to replace Jody Grooms, who resigned amid allegations of misappropriating fundraising money. Chastain was a Camden County assistant for most of his career, including state-championship seasons in 2008 and 2009. His title in 2015 was assistant head coach. He spent the 2011 season as defensive coordinator at Eagle’s Landing Christian.
*Griffin hired alumnus and longtime assistant Antonio Andrews to replace Jarrett Laws, who was let go despite a 17-6 record in two seasons. Andrews played at Griffin in the early 1990s and at Georgia Military College, where his coach was Steven DeVoursney, who later became Griffin’s head coach. Andrews joined DeVoursney as a Griffin assistant in 2005. The school board originally approved the hiring of Mays head coach Corey Jarvis, but Jarvis declined the offer two days later. Laws is now head coach at Salem.
*Morrow hired Lovejoy running backs coach Jerome Weaks to replace Leroy Foster, whose teams were 6-34 in four seasons. Weaks also has assisted at Southwest DeKalb, Avondale, Berkmar and Holy Innocents’. His best work might’ve been at Avondale, which in 2009 broke a 24-year playoff drought with Weaks running the offense. Foster is now an assistant at Mundy’s Mill.
*Whitewater promoted offensive assistant Bryan Holley to replace Amos McCreary, the program founder who initially retired, then became head coach at his alma mater Evarts in Kentucky. Holley has coached at Whitewater the past two seasons. He was on Starr’s Mills’ staff from 2004 to 2013. He had been a head coach for five seasons at Muhlenberg South in Kentucky. McCreary was 161-81 in 22 seasons as a head coach, the past 12 seasons at Whitewater.
*Chamblee hired Curtis Mattair, an assistant coach at the school from 2009 to 2014, to replace Allen Johnson, who was 17-23 in four seasons at his alma mater. Mattair, who taught and coached last season in Texas, played high school ball at Madison County (Fla.) under current Lowndes coach Randy McPherson. He was a football player and sprinter in track and field at Alabama A&M. Strength and conditioning is one of his areas of expertise. Johnson is now the video coordinator at King’s Ridge Christian.
*Cross Keys hired Druid Hills coach Mark Adams to replace John Bowen, who took the Montgomery County job after one season and an 0-5 finish. Adams has made a career of working at some of the state’s toughest stops – Cross Keys (1998-2000), Avondale (2005-07) and Druid Hills (2013-15). Given that, his 21-69 record isn’t too bad. Cross Keys hasn’t won more than two games in a season since 1995.
*Miller Grove hired Griffin defensive coordinator Justin Larmond to replace Damien Wimes, Larmond was defensive coordinator on Creekside’s Class AAAAA championship team in 2013. Wimes is now an assistant at Starr’s Mill.
*Lithia Springs hired Smiths Station (Ala.) head coach Jason Dukes to replace Craig Chatman, whose teams were 1-19 in two seasons. Dukes was 11-9 in two seasons at Smiths Station but is better known for his work at Alpharetta, where he was 34-21 in five seasons (2009-13). The 2011 team was the first region champion in school history. Dukes is a former Georgia Tech player. Chatman is now an assistant coach at Community Christian in Stockbridge.
*North Springs hired Alpharetta defensive coordinator Dan Devine to replace Steve Horton, who is now athletics director at Franklin County. Devine has been a head coach in North Carolina at Hickory Grove Christian and Westminster Catawba Christian and won a state championship in 2010. Horton was 4-26 in three seasons but did end the school’s 40-game losing streak in non-forfeited games.
*Carrollton hired Colquitt County offensive coordinator Sean Calhoun to replace Ed Dudley, who is now offensive coordinator at Wesleyan. Calhoun worked at Colquitt County the past two seasons, during which the Packers were 30-0 and set state records in the highest classification for points in a season both years. Calhoun, a Berkmar graduate, was quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator the first season before taking a more prominent role. Calhoun was an assistant at Collins Hill from 2010 to 2013, finishing as offensive coordinator.
*Paulding County hired McEachern offensive coordinator Van Spence to replace Scott Hamilton, who took a job as quarterback coach and passing-game coordinator at McIntosh County Academy after leading Paulding to a 7-3 finish, the school’s best since 2003. Spence was a 15-year McEachern assistant, running the offense since 2010. Hamilton was 17-33 in five seasons.
*Cedar Shoals hired Thomasville head coach Leroy Ryals to replace Scott Wilkins, who was let go after 0-10 and 2-8 finishes. Ryals made his name as head coach at Cedar Shoals’ cross-town Athens rival Clarke Central, which he led to the 2009 Class AAAA championship game and was 60-22-1 from 2006 to 2012. He moved back into his old house, which he never sold. Ryals was 15-17 at Thomasville, which bottomed out at 1-8 last season. Wilkins is now offensive coordinator at East Jackson under Christian Hunnicutt,
*Clarke Central hired alumnus and former Georgia baseball coach David Perno to replace Ahren Self, who took a job as defensive coordinator at Summerville (S.C.). Perno was a fullback on Clarke Central’s 1985 state-championship football team but made his mark in baseball. He led Georgia to the College World Series in 2004, 2006 and 2008 but was fired after the 2013 season. Self’s teams were 16-15 in three seasons.
Coming Monday: Class AAAA
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