Ridgeland will be facing Calhoun High School in the first game of the 2019 season on Aug. 22 at Rome’s Baron Stadium. Last year, the Panthers were also led by a first-year coach in Cortney Braswell, who left after the season to take a position on the University of Louisville’s staff, when they took on the Jackets. The search for the next head coach following Braswell’s January departure lasted weeks until it was announced on March 29 that Kip Klein had been selected as the ninth head coach in Ridgeland’s history.
Next season will mark Klein’s 26th year at the school and he has worked his way up the coaching ladder and up the administrative ladder over that same span. That hard work has paid off and now he will be stepping away from his role as assistant principle to focus entirely on leading the football program.
“I’ve applied for jobs at other places, but for some reason, it’s been God’s plan that we stay here,” Klein told Northwest Georgia News. “This is our mission here. We want to make good, happy, productive citizens and we want the guys to know that we love them. My wife teaches at the middle school and both of my boys have come up in the school system here. We’re really excited about it.”
His oldest son John was a senior lineman on last year’s 8-4 squad and he will be attending the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga next year. Jacob, who also plays offensive line, will be a sophomore this upcoming season. Reigning Walker County Offensive Player of the Year Jordan Blackwell and reigning Walker County Defensive Player of the Year Terrance Roberts are also going to be back to help the program build off of last year’s run.
“Coach Klein has been an integral part of the growth and success of Ridgeland’s health and physical education department, baseball team and football team for the past two decades,” stated a press release offered by the school. “Principle Karen Hughes and athletic director Robert Stinson are excited about Coach Klein’s selection and are confident in his enthusiasm, energy and devotion to the students of the Panther community will bring continuity to the football program and continued success for years.
Klein is one of the three coaching changes that took place in Region 6-AAAA this offseason. Former Pebblebrook head coach took over for Gilmer and Jeff Nelson stepped in for Chris Parker at defending region champion Pickens.
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