Football coaching hires: High-profile jobs opening at ‘amazing’ rate

Jaybo Shaw was named Rabun County’s head coach in December following the retirement of his father, Lee Shaw, who had won five region titles at his alma mater. Shaw’s hiring was among the first of many at some of the state’s marquee football programs. Others that have come open are Buford, Grayson, Cartersville, Calhoun, Clinch County, Charlton County, Stockbridge and Cedar Grove. Photo: BLITZ Sports Monthly
Jaybo Shaw was named Rabun County’s head coach in December following the retirement of his father, Lee Shaw, who had won five region titles at his alma mater. Shaw’s hiring was among the first of many at some of the state’s marquee football programs. Others that have come open are Buford, Grayson, Cartersville, Calhoun, Clinch County, Charlton County, Stockbridge and Cedar Grove. Photo: BLITZ Sports Monthly

There probably have never been more high-profile coaching jobs to come open in one Georgia high school football offseason.

The latest has come at Cedar Grove, the reigning Class AAA champion. Jimmy Smith, whose six-season record at the DeKalb County school was 67-14-1, is now an assistant coach on the staff of Georgia State. He made that move official last week.

‘’It’s the year for the legends to retire, move to college or look for greener pastures,’’ said Ahmand Tinker, the executive director of the Georgia Minority Coaches Association. Tinker has tracked coaching changes for years and can’t recall anything quite like this.

‘’It's amazing to see so many major programs/jobs open up in the same year,’’ he said. “It's almost unheard of in the state of Georgia to see that.’’

Calhoun’s Hal Lamb (238-52 all-time record) and Clinch County’s Jim Dickerson (152-44-1), with eight state titles between them, have retired. Clinch is the defending Class A public-school champion.

Clay Stephenson was promoted to replace Lamb. Don Tison Jr. was promoted to replace Dickerson.

Cartersville’s Joey King is another who is off to the college ranks. He’s now an assistant coach at Coastal Carolina. King was 67-4 in six seasons and won state titles with Trevor Lawrence as his quarterback in 2015 and 2016. Defensive coordinator Conor Foster has taken King’s place.

Buford, Georgia’s most successful program this century, has hired its defensive coordinator, Bryant Appling, to replace John Ford, the former Roswell coach whose 21-5 record over two seasons paled only when compared to the school’s history of 10 state titles since 2000.

Grayson also parted ways with a coach with a similar record, 20-5. That would be Christian Hunnicutt, whose Rams went out in the quarterfinals last season. Grayson, which won state titles in 2011 and 2016, hired Adam Carter from Creekview in Cherokee County. Hunnicutt landed at Villa Rica, where he is head coach.

McEachern, the school with more alumni in college football (58) last season than any other in Georgia, is still looking for a replacement for Kyle Hockman, who took a job as head coach of New Hampstead outside of Savannah. Hockman was 103-32 in his 11 seasons at McEachern.

Stockbridge coach Kevin Whitley also is on the move, taking a job at New Manchester in Douglas County. Whitley had led Stockbridge to five region titles and 11-win seasons or better each of the past seven years. Stockbridge promoted Steve Boyd to replace him.

Rabun County’s Lee Shaw retired in December, giving way to his son, Jaybo Shaw, a former star quarterback for him at Flowery Branch and more recently the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. Lee Shaw was 70-17 at Rabun County and 79-41 at Flowery Branch and won six region titles.

Charlton County’s Rich McWhorter, who has won 288 games and five state titles since 1990 at his south Georgia school, has headed north. He’s the new head coach at Jackson County. Charlton promoted Russ Murray to replace him.

Another major job that might open is that at Colquitt County, where Rush Propst remains on paid leave amid an internal school-board investigation. Colquitt has been Georgia’s most successful program in the highest classification and won state titles in 2015 and 2016.

Bobby McAllister, executive director of the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association, says the high-profile changes are interesting, but not inexplicable.

‘’Grayson and Buford are changing just about every year now,’’ said McAllister, noting that those two state powers have had five head coaches between them since 2016 after years of stability. “The others were retirements and going to coach in college. There still may be a big one in South Georgia to open any day. Just unusual this year.’’

And that makes it even more fun to be a job-seeker or just a spectator who likes to follow the news.

‘’Coaches are always interested in what is going on,’’ he said. “And if they see that a good job is available, they will get all the information they can and then may pursue. The majority of coaches are always on the lookout for other jobs.’’

And there have been plenty. More than 70 jobs have been reported as open since the season ended in December. Those totals are not unusual in recent years and will continue to climb. Here is a list of those reported:

Alcovy - Former coach: Chris Edgar. New coach: Jason Duke

Americus-Sumter - Former coach: Larry Harold. New coach: Open

Bacon County - Former coach: Kyle Langford. New coach: Keith Gosse

Banneker - Former coach: Mario Allen. New coach: Lou George

Bradwell Institute - Former coach: Ross Couch. New coach: Kyle Adkins

Buford - Former coach: John Ford. New coach: Bryant Appling

Calhoun - Former coach: Hal Lamb. New coach: Clay Stephenson

Campbell - Former coach: Kyle Adkins. New coach: Open

Cartersville - Former coach: Joey King. New coach: Conor Foster

Cedar Grove - Former coach: Jimmy Smith. New coach: Open

Centennial - Former coach: Michael Perry. New coach: Shane Sams

Chamblee - Former coach: Curtis Mattair. New coach: Scott Schwarzer

Charles Drew - Former coach: D.Lyles. New coach: Steve Robinson

Charlton County - Former coach: Rich McWhorter. New coach: Russ Murray

Clinch County - Former coach: Jim Dickerson. New coach: Don Tison Jr.

Cook - Former coach: Bobby Jones. New coach: Jimmy Rodgers

Creekview - Former coach: Adam Carter. New coach: Open

Cross Keys - Former coach: Mike Adams. New coach: Open

Dooly County - Former coach: Corey Jarvis. New coach: Open

Dougherty - Former coach: Damien Gary. New coach: Johnny Gilbert

Duluth - Former coach: Bob Swank. New coach: Open

East Hall - Former coach: Scott Patrick. New coach: Michael Perry

East Jackson - Former coach: Scott Wilikins. New coach: Cameron Pettus

Elbert County - Former coach: Sid Fritts. New coach: Brad Waggoner

Fayette County - Former coach: Mike Davis. New coach: Nick Davis

Forest Park - Former coach: Martez Edwards. New coach: Gerren Griffin

George Walton Academy - Former coach: Don Williams. New coach: Shane Davis

Gilmer - Former coach: Casey Wingard. New coach: Kevin Saunders

Gordon Central - Former coach: Corey Nix. New coach: TJ Hamilton

Grayson - Former coach: Christian Hunnicutt. New coach: Adam Carter

Greenville - Former coach: Vex Farley. New coach: Tyler Wynn

Griffin - Former coach: Antoino Andrews. New coach: Open

Groves - Former coach: Michael Martin. New coach: Open

Jackson County - Former coach: Brandon Worley. New coach: Rich McWhorter

Jenkins County - Former coach: Charley Waters. New coach: David Johnson

Johnson-Ganesville - Former coach: Jason Roquermore. New coach: Open

Josey - Former coach: Marcus Jackson. New coach: John Starr II

Lamar County - Former coach: John Flath. New coach: Jeffrey Sloan

Landmark Christian - Former coach: Joe Scott. New coach: Mike Sherrard

Laney - Former coach: Rodney McFadden. New coach: Rashad Dunn

Langston Hughes - Former coach: Willie Cannon. New coach: Daniel Williams

Lassister - Former coach: Jep Irwin. New coach: Sean Thom

Lithia Springs - Former coach: Kevin Hill. New coach: Corey Jarvis

Lithonia - Former coach: Dave Edwards. New coach: Marcus Jelks (interim)

Henry County - Former coach: Mo Starr. New coach: Eric Solomon

McEachern - Former coach: Kyle Hoffman. New coach: Open

Mill Creek - Former coach: Shannon Jarvis. New coach: Josh Lovelady

Model - Former coach: Gordon Powers. New coach: Open

New Hampstead - Former coach: Thomas Tedder. New coach: Kyle Hoffman

New Manchester - Former coach: Myron Terry. New coach: Kevin Whitley

Newton - Former coach: Terrence Banks. New coach: Camiel Grant

Pacelli - Former coach: Mark LeGree. New coach: Dwight Jones

Pebblebrook - Former coach: Kevin Saunders. New coach: Leroy Hood

Pickens - Former coach: Chris Parker. New coach: Jeff Nelson

Rabun County - Former coach: Lee Shaw. New coach: Jaybo Shaw

Randolph Clay - Former coach: Harvey Smith. New coach: Open

Ridgeland - Former coach: Cortney Braswell. New coach: Open

River Ridge - Former coach: Tyler Wynn. New coach: Mike Collins

Rutland - Former coach: Mark Daniel. New coach: Rusty Easom

Shiloh - Former coach: Ryan Andrews. New coach: Tino Lerulli

South Effingham - Former coach: Donnie Revell . New coach: Nathan Clark

Spalding - Former coach: Nick Davis . New coach: Jeff Hammonds

Spencer - Former coach: Justin Newman. New coach: Robert Sanders

Stockbridge - Former coach: Kevin Whitley. New coach: Steve Boyd

Stone Mountain - Former coach: James Collier. New coach: James Lal

Towns County - Former coach: John Cornett. New coach: Jason Roquermore

Turner County - Former coach: Leroy Hood. New coach: Open

Villa Rica - Former coach: Rico Zachery. New coach: Christian Hunnicutt

Washington-Willes - Former coach: Chad Alligood . New coach: TC Jay

Westside-Augusta - Former coach: Scott Tate . New coach: John Wiley

Wheeler - Former coach: Mike Collins. New coach: Bryan Love

Windsor Forest - Former coach: Gregg Busby. New coach: Ike Ferrell

Woodland-Stockbridge - Former coach: Bryan Love. New coach: Antoino Andrews

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