Photo: AJC
Photo: AJC

Class AAAAAA football: Nine teams will have new head coaches in 2018

Nine Class AAAAAA schools will have new head football coaches when the 2018 season begins in a little more than four months.

Eight of those positions have been filled, while North Atlanta is still looking. 

Here’s a recap of the moves that have been made in the offseason. 

*Apalachee: The Wildcats hired West Hall head coach Tony Lotti to replace Steve Sims, who stepped down in December after compiling a 3-26-1 record in three seasons at a school that has had just four winning seasons in its 14-year history. Lotti was 35-31 in six seasons at West Hall, leading the Spartans to their first region title (2014) in school history and first playoff win (2016) since 2000. 

*Creekview: The Grizzlies hired Valdosta defensive coordinator Adam Carter to replace Terry Crowder, who left after five seasons to start the program at the new Denmark High School in Forsyth County. Carter has made several stops as a high school assistant and at the college level (South Carolina State and Reinhardt). He was a head coach for one year, going 4-6 in 2013 at Bradwell Institute. 

*Dacula: The Falcons promoted defensive coordinator Clint Jenkins to replace Tommy Jones, who resigned in December to start the football program at new Hall County high school Cherokee Bluff. This is Jenkins’ first head coaching job. Jones led the Falcons to three region titles in five seasons and compiled a record of 37-22. He previously was head coach at Lumpkin County for seven years. 

*Gainesville: The Red Elephants hired Winder-Barrow head coach Heath Webb to replace Bruce Miller, who retired after 16 seasons. Miller had a record of 157-46 and led the Red Elephants to eight region titles and the 2012 Class AAAAA championship. Webb inherited a Winder team that had gone 6-54 the previous six seasons and went 26-19 with four playoff berths in his four seasons. 

*North Atlanta: The Warriors are still in the market for a replacement for Jeremy Gainer, who posted an 8-22 record in three seasons. North Atlanta has had just two winning seasons and one trip to the state playoffs (1996) since the program began in 1991. Michael Walker, who lasted nine years and coached the 1996 team, is the only coach in school history with more than three seasons on the job. 

*Northgate: The Vikings hired East Coweta assistant coach and former Newnan head coach Mike McDonald to replace Kelsey Dalrymple, who stepped down after going 6-4 in his only season. McDonald was 56-37 in eight seasons at Newnan from 2009-2016 and 19-15 at Union Grove from 2004-2006. Dalrymple had replaced Tommy Walburn, who at 52-27 is the school’s winningest coach. 

*South Paulding: The Spartans hired Johns Creek defensive coordinator Jason Thompson to replace Ed Koester, who retired in December after five seasons. Koester’s team won a school-best 10 games in 2013 but had fallen off recently, going 2-8 and 1-9 the past two seasons. Thompson was a longtime North Gwinnett assistant coach before moving to Johns Creek for one season. 

*Tri-Cities: The Bulldogs promoted assistant coach Innis Claud to replace Kenneth Miller, who stepped down after 10 seasons with a 46-58-1 record, including 3-7 in 2017. Miller’s 10 seasons and 46 victories rank No. 1 in program history. Miller led the Bulldogs to the quarterfinals in 2011, the only time they have ever advanced beyond the first round. This is Claud’s first head coaching job. 

*Winder-Barrow: The Bulldoggs hired Wesleyan offensive coordinator Ed Dudley to replace Heath Webb, who took the head coaching job at Gainesville. Dudley is 193-87 in 24 seasons as a head coach, with stops at Carrollton (2014-15), Ware County (2009-13), Walton (1995-2008) and Buford (1992-94). His Ware County team was the Class AAAAA runner-up to Gainesville in 2012.

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