One of the key differences between traditionally strong programs and those that struggle is the off season program. Simply put, what teams do from December through July – getting bigger, stronger, faster and better – impacts what happens during the season.
And so on that note, we take a look at the schools that are transitioning through coaching changes this off season.
Clinch County: After 15 seasons as head coach, Jim Dickerson (152-44-1), who won five state titles, including the last two in a row and three out of the last four, retired. He is being replaced by a member of his staff, Don Tilson Jr. Tilson’s father, Donald, coached the Panthers from 1974 to 1993. He hired Dickerson as an assistant in 1988.
Charlton County: Rich McWhorter, who to the deep south from Illinois in 1990 and proceeded to win 288 games and five state titles in Folkston, took the head coaching job at Jackson County. Charlton promoted assistant head coach Russ Murray to replace him.
Dooly County: After three seasons in Vienna, two as defensive coordinator and last season as head coach, Corey Jarvis has moved back to metro Atlanta to lead the program at Lithia Springs in Douglas County. Dooly, which finished 7-5 last season, has yet to find a replacement for Jarvis, who is 99-44 as a head coach.
George Walton Academy: Don Williams, who won 174 games, three region titles and two state championships in 25 seasons at George Walton Academy, retired and will be replaced by offensive coordinator Shane Davis. Williams will remain at GWA as dean of athletics. He led the Walton County private school to two Georgia Independent School Association (GISA) championships in 2003 and 2009 before joining the GHSA in 2010. His first GHSA team went 10-2. Davis, his successor, joined the staff last season as offensive coordinator and assistant head coach. He had been Grayson's strength-and-conditioning coach and formerly was a head coach at Apalachee.
Greenville: Tyler Wynn, formerly head coach at Class AAAAAA River Ridge in Cherokee County, was hired by the Patriots just two weeks ago to replace Vex Farley, who went 16-45 in six seasons. Wynn grew up in nearby LaGrange and went to Troup County. He was just 9-31 in four seasons at River Ridge, a fairly new school which played its first varsity season in 2012.
Jenkins County: David Johnson will try his hand at building a competitive program in Millen, where the Eagles have not had back-to-back winning seasons since 1959 (7-3) and 1960 (8-4). Johnson takes over for Charley Waters, had a fairly successful five year stint at Jenkins County, going 28-24 with two state playoff appearance.
Landmark Christian: The War Eagle’s are looking to a former NCAA All-American and NFL veteran to get one of the state’s most consistent and respected programs back on track. UCLA alum Mike Sherrard, who won a Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers, has been hired to replace Joe Scott, who went 2-8 in his one and only season. The previous year, Landmark went 0-10 under Wayne Brantley, who was 42-16 in the five seasons prior to that.
Pacelli: Mark “Dre” LeGree stepped down after just two seasons at his alma mater. The Vikings went winless (0-10) in his first season, after going 1-9 in 2016, but improved to 4-6 in 2018. Dwight Jones was hired away from nearby Russell County (AL), where he was just 6-24 over the last three seasons.
Randolph Clay: After two seasons, where the Red Devils went 2-8 and 0-10, Harvey Smith is out. Randolph Clay is still searching for a head coach that can return the program to a competitive level.
Towns County: John Cornett led Towns County to its only state playoff appearance in school history in 2017. But he stepped down a year later, after a 3-7 season, to return to his native Maine. Jason Roquermore, who was just 16-54 in the last seven seasons at Johnson, has stepped up to try to bring respectability to a program that has had just one winning season since its first full varsity season in 1978.
Turner County: Leroy Hood did what the two coaches who preceded him in Ashburn did. He left after just two seasons. After leading the Rebels to back-to-back 6-5 seasons, Hood bolted for Class AAAAAAA Pebblebrook. Prior to that Ben Simmons left for Worth County after going 8-4 and 8-3, respectively, in 2016 and 2015, while John Gamble left after going 4-7 and 4-6 in 2014 and 2013. Turner County has yet to hire a replacement.
Washington-Wilkes: After the Tigers went 3-7 and missed the state playoffs for the first time since 1997, Chad Alligood stepped down after two seasons. TC Jay, who has been at Washington-Wilkes as the track coach, takes over as head football coach and athletic director.
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