Dougherty’s Gilbert among nine new head coaches in Class AAAA

Number of hires: 9 

Best hire: Johnny Gilbert, Dougherty 

Hardest to replace: Joey King, Cartersville 

Best job: Cartersville 

Toughest job: Dougherty 

Most interesting: Dougherty welcomed back one of Albany's own, Johnny Gilbert, to take over a program that just went 0-10. The move was overdue. Gilbert was a young coach on the rise some 15 years ago when he lost his job at McNair over sexual-misconduct charges that proved false. Gilbert was acquitted in court, but McNair had moved on amid the proceedings despite the Mustangs' records of 10-3, 10-2 and 10-1 over Gilbert's final three seasons. Gilbert assisted at Strong Rock Christian, then moved to Creekside Christian, a GICAA school in Henry County, where he coached several sports and became athletic director. He was a finalist for head coaching jobs at Albany and Dougherty in 2010. Finally, Gilbert gets another shot as a GHSA head coach in his hometown where he was a star quarterback at Monroe High and Albany State. 

Region 1 

*Americus-Sumter hired Bradwell Institute head coach Ross Couch to replace Larry Harold, now an assistant coach at Kentucky State. Couch's Bradwell teams were 6-4 and 5-7 after going 3-26-1 the previous three seasons. Americus-Sumter won a region title in 9-3 but fell back to 3-7 last season. Couch will be the school's 10th head coach since it opened in 2002. 

*Dougherty hired Creekside Christian head coach Johnny Gilbert to replace Damien Gary, who is now offensive coordinator at Clarke Central, his alma mater. Gilbert was 46-21 in six seasons at McNair (1999-2004) and led that program to three consecutive 10-win seasons. Dougherty was 0-10 last season and forfeited two games in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. 

Region 2 

*Spalding hired Colquitt County assistant Jeff Hammond to replace Nick Davis, who took the head coaching job at Fayette County. Hammond has been part of six teams that reached the semifinals or better during his 14 years as an offensive coordinator at Colquitt, Early County and Foley High in his native Alabama. He was offensive coordinator at Colquitt from 2008 to 2012 and from 2016 to 2018. Hammond has also served as a head coach in baseball, golf, weightlifting and track in Alabama, Florida and Georgia public schools. Spalding was 3-7 overall and winless in Region 2-AAAA last season. 

Region 3 

*Cross Creek hired West Broward (Fla.) coach Monte Dilworth to replace Tavis Cummings, who joined Jefferson County's staff. Dilworth was 19-13 in three seasons at West Broward. He has been a high school coach for 17 seasons, five in Georgia, including a stint as co-offensive coordinator at Mays. While on staff at Miami Northwestern, he coached future NFL players Teddy Bridgewater Jr., Amari Cooper and Artie Burns. Cross Creek was 3-7 and 2-8 in Cummings' two seasons. 

Region 4 

*McDonough, formerly known as Henry County High, hired Cedar Shoals defensive coordinator Eric Solomon to replace Morris Starr, now head coach at Lakeside (Atlanta). Solomon is a former Peach County and Carson-Newman linebacker who has coached at Bayside (Fla.), Austin East (Tenn.), Valdosta and Peach County. He was on Peach's staff during the 2009 Class AAA championship season. He was Clark Atlanta University's defensive coordinator before going to Cedar Shoals in 2017. Henry County was 11-53 in seven seasons under Starr. 

Region 5 

*Cartersville promoted defensive coordinator Conor Foster to replace Joey King, who is now the wide receivers coach at Coastal Carolina. Foster, a member of Cartersville's 1999 state championship team, returned to Cartersville in 2014 after serving as defensive coordinator at Carrollton, where he also coached with King. Foster was on Apalachee's staff the previous six seasons. Cartersville was 67-4 in five seasons under King. 

Region 6 

*Gilmer hired Pebblebrook head coach Kevin Saunders to replace Casey Wingard, who remained as athletic director at his alma mater. Pebblebrook was 20-23 in Saunders' four seasons and made three straight playoff appearances for the first time since 2001-03. Saunders won a state title in Virginia at Gretna High. Gilmer has lost its past 30 games. 

*Pickens promoted defensive coordinator Jeff Nelson to replace Chris Parker, who is now the county athletic director. Nelson has been at Pickens since 2014. He had been on staff at Sequoyah the previous five seasons. Pickens finished 11-1 and won its first region title in 2018. 

*Ridgeland promoted Kip Klein to replace Cortney Braswell, who was hired as a quality control coach at Louisville. Klein has coached at Ridgeland for 25 seasons and was defensive coordinator on the 2012 Class AAAA runner-up team. Ridgeland was 8-4 in a single season under Braswell. 

Region 7 

None 

Region 8 

None 

Coming Wednesday: Class AAA 

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