Class AA blog: Coaching carousel glimpse

Initially, the plan was to use this blog space to cover lacrosse and gymnastics. But, life got in the way so now we’ll focus on football. Spring football has been wiped out, however there’s still plenty to talk about.

We’ll start with new coaches in AA, as reported by my colleague Todd Holcomb. Since we are looking forward, we’ll be discussing schools based on the upcoming reclassification that goes into effect for the 2020 season.

Of the six reported new-hires, half come in Region 7, where  in Chattooga, Shawn Peek replaces Charles Hammon. At Coosa, Joey Mathis replaces Todd Wheeler and at Dade County, Jeff Poston replaces Dale Pruitt.

The Indians finished 5-6 last season and qualified for the playoffs every season under Hammon, who took over the program in 2014. Their 2014 playoff appearance broke a four-year postseason drought. Hammon was 37-32 at Chattooga. His best season came in 2016 when he led the Indians to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1974. According to WZQZ, Hammon submitted his resignation the day after the team banquet. However, he will remain in Region 7 after rival Dade County hired him as an assistant.

Peek joins the Indians after serving as defensive coordinator at South Pittsburg (Tenn.) the past five seasons, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. In 16 seasons as a head coach between North Jackson, Pisgah and North Sand Mountain — all in Alabama — and Dade County, his record is 97-78. His last head coaching gig was North Jackson, where he went 50-13 from 2009 to 2013.

Wheeler resigned from Coosa shortly after a 1-9 season, the program’s worst since 2015. He took over in 2013 and had success early with back-to-back winning seasons his first and second years, when the Eagles went 6-4 and 8-4, respectively. But he only had one winning season after that when the Eagles went 7-4 in 2017. He finished with a 31-43 record in seven seasons at Coosa.

Mathis takes over the Eagles after leading Marion County (Tenn.) the last four seasons. He returns closer to home, as he played quarterback at Calhoun. In his first season at Marion County he led the team to a 13-2 record and runner-up finish in AA, but then went 7-6, 3-7 and finally 3-8 last year before resigning.

Dade County finished 2-8 in Pruitt’s only season with the Wolverines. He left to replace Mathis at Marion County. Poston will try to guide the Wolverines to their first winning season since 2015, when they went 6-5. Poston is a 1992 graduate of Dade County and had served as an assistant on the Wolverines’ staff the past two seasons, according to the Times Free Press.

Here’s a clip from the press conference announcing Poston’s hire.

The most notable name to step down comes out of Vidalia, where Lee Chomksis resigned from the Indians after 13 seasons to coach Lincoln County. He compiled a 101-45 record, second all-time in program history behind John “Buck” Cravey, who went 194-78-1 from 1967-1992. Chomskis’ best season came in 2014 when he led the Indians to the quarterfinals. The Indians have reached the postseason the last eight years.

Chomskis will be replaced by Jason Cameron, who in three seasons at Jenkins went 33-7 with two region titles, two quarterfinals appearances and, last season, the program’s first semifinals appearance since 1966. 

Along with Cameron, the biggest name to join AA is Phillip Ironside, who replaces Frankie Carroll at Worth County. Ironside founded Hillgrove’s program in 2006 and coached it all the way through last season, compiling a 109-46 record and advancing as far as the quarterfinals four different times — most recently in 2018. He takes over at Worth County — back in AA for the first time since 1977 — after the team that went 3-27 the last three seasons.

Carroll resigned after two seasons with the Rams, going 2-8 last season and 1-9 in 2018.

At KIPP Atlanta, Coy Brown replaces James Briscoe, who left after one season in which the Warriors finished 2-8. The Warriors, which began football in 2013, have just one winning season, going 7-4 in 2016 under Lester Caldwell.

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