Photo: AJC
Photo: AJC

Lincoln County among 18 Class A schools with new head coaches

Number of hires: 18

Best hire: Corey Jarvis, Dooly County 

Hardest to replace: Mark Ledford, Wilcox County 

Best job: Lincoln County 

Toughest job: Stewart County 

Most interesting: It's tough to follow a legend, and there's none more legendary in Georgia than Larry Campbell. And so it went with Kevin Banks, who led Lincoln County to a 30-15 record over four seasons since the retirement of Larry Legend, whose 477 wins are the state record. Campbell's 11 state titles are mighty daunting, also. "You can't go 15-0 every year," Banks said. "It's not going to be like that anymore. The expectations are still like that, but it's not going to happen. It's just different now." It was a painful split for the Lincoln County community, too. "Coach Banks doesn't give up on the kids," said Johnny Walton, Lincoln County's football statistician and historian. "He recognizes that some young folks need more than a single chance. He helped many when he ran the Alternative School several years ago." Walton then told of one young man that he said would have quit high school if not for Banks. The popular coach continues to work at Lincoln County in an administrative role. 

Region 1 

*Pataula Charter hired Oglethorpe County head coach Richard Andrews to replace Matt Fowler, whose team was 2-7 in one season. Andrews is back in south Georgia, where he was Brooks County's defensive coordinator for eight seasons before coming to Oglethorpe. Andrews' Oglethorpe teams were 1-19 at a program that has not won more than one game in a season since 2012 (4-6). Fowler is no longer coaching. 

*Stewart County hired Northeast head coach Ashley Harden to replace Kelvin Smith, whose teams were 3-17 in two seasons but broke a 32-game losing streak in 2016. Smith is now an assistant in Alabama. This will be the fifth head-coaching job for Harden since 2009, when he took over at Butler, which had the state's longest losing streak but went to the playoffs in his third season. Harden also has coached at Jenkins County (2012-13) and Twiggs County (2015-16) and taken both to the playoffs. 

Region 2 

*Lanier County hired Brunswick co-defensive coordinator Kurt Williams to replace Carl Parker. Williams coached at Brunswick for three seasons and Macon County for the three seasons prior. He spent a previous season on the support staff at Valdosta State, his alma mater. Lanier County was 1-9 the past three seasons under Parker, who is now the defensive coordinator at Appling County. 

*Wilcox County hired Dodge County assistant Ken Cofer to replace Mark Ledford, who was 111-83 in 17 seasons at his alma mater and won a state title in 2009. Cofer has been head coach at Cook (2010-14) and Bacon County (2014-15) and has a 43-25 career record. Ledford is now Tift County's ninth-grade coach. 

Region 3 

*McIntosh County Academy hired Liberty County defensive coordinator Tony Glazer to replace Terel Toomer, who was 3-6 in one season. Glazer coached All-America defensive players Raekwon McMillan and Richard LeCounte while at Liberty. Toomer is now the defensive coordinator at Macon County. 

*Savannah Christian hired Benedictine offensive coordinator Baker Woodward to replace William Bell, who served in the position as an interim coach last season and has remained on staff. Woodward, who directed the offenses of Benedictine's 2014 and 2016 Class AA championship teams, is a graduate of Savannah Christian rival Calvary Day, where he also was a lay coach for six seasons. 

*Treutlen hired Dublin assistant head coach Steve Versprille to replace Britt Ingle, who resigned to take a job on the staff at Vidalia. Versprille, a Virginia native and former University of Alabama linebacker, had been at Dublin the past 11 seasons. Ingle coached at Treutlen for 21 seasons, the final 14 as head coach. The Vikings were 6-4 last season for the first winning record since 2009. 

*Wheeler County hired Twiggs County assistant Timothy McArthur to replace Randy Collins. McArthur was Twiggs' middle school head coach, high school running backs and defensive backs coach and girls basketball head coach. At Wheeler County, he'll be football and boys basketball head coach. Wheeler County was 10-10 under Collins, the Bulldogs' best two-year run in nearly 20 years. Collins is now on the staff at Robert Toombs Academy. 

Region 4 

*Crawford County hired Lee County defensive coordinator Jhon Smith to replace Greg Street, whose teams were 22-37 in six seasons. Smith was coach of defensive All-Americans Aubrey Solomon and Otis Reese while at Lee County. Street is now the defensive coordinator at Rutland. 

*Dooly County promoted assistant and former Mays and M.L. King head coach Corey Jarvis to replace Jimmy Hughes, who became athletics director at Crisp County. Jarvis' record as a head coach is 91-38. He led M.L. King to its first region title in 2007 and Mays to its first state finals appearance in 2014. He was forced out at Mays the next season over alleged mismanagement of booster club funds. Hughes was 60-34 in eight seasons at Dooly, 5-7 in 2017. 

Region 5 

*Landmark Christian hired South Paulding defensive coordinator Joe Scott to replace Wayne Brantley, whose teams were 42-26 in six seasons but 0-10 in 2017. Nicknamed "Hit Man" during his college days as a linebacker, Scott played on the 1999 and 2000 national-championship teams at Georgia Southern. Brantley is now on Calvary Day's staff. 

Region 6 

*Bowdon hired Westside (Macon) defensive coordinator Rich Fendley to replace Robert Andrews, who is now head coach at Walnut Grove. Fendley had been an assistant at Heard County from 2008 to 2016, when he also headed up the Braves' weightlifting teams that won three state titles. Fendley is the son of Richard Fendley Sr., the longtime Warner Robins defensive coordinator and head coach who passed away in November. Bowdon was 14-19 in three seasons under Andrews, 2-8 in 2017. 

*King's Ridge Christian re-hired Jeff Pickren, who started the program in 2008 and led it through 2015, to replace Jimmy Chupp. King's Ridge has not had a winning season. The Tigers were 2-8 last season. Pickren also was Mount Pisgah Christian's head coach from 2004 to 2006. Chupp has rejoined the staff at Greater Atlanta Christian. 

*St. Francis hired Stephens County head coach Frank Barden to replace Tim Mathis, who resigned to become head coach at Cumberland University in Tennessee. Barden's record at Pickens (1994-95), Cartersville (1996-2013) and Stephens County (2014-17) is 189-87. St. Francis was 2-8 and 4-7 under Mathis. 

*Whitefield Academy promoted co-offensive coordinator Coleman Joiner to replace John Hunter, who led the Wolfpack to an 8-4 finish in 2017, the program's best mark in nine years. Hunter, who served as head coach for two seasons, will remain as defensive coordinator. Joiner, 26, had come to Whitefield last season after stints at alma mater Campbell and Sprayberry in Cobb County. 

Region 7 

*Greene County hired Larry Milligan, its head coach 10 years ago, to replace Robert Edwards, who took the Riverwood job. Milligan was Greene's head coach from 2002 to 2008 and had a 52-28 record, which represents the best winning percentage for a coach in school history. Milligan led the Tigers to the Class AA semifinals with quarterback Josh Nesbitt. Milligan most recently was dean of students at Fernandina Beach (Fla.) High. He was head coach at Oglethorpe County from 2009 to 2014. Edwards' record was 29-37 in six seasons, 3-7 last year. 

*Lincoln County hired Grayson offensive coordinator Michael Pollock to replace Kevin Banks, who resigned with a 30-15 record over four seasons, including a 7-5 mark last year. Banks had succeeded Larry Campbell, the state's all-time winningest coach, after spending 19 years on Campbell's staff. Pollock has been a head coach at Cook (2001-02), Americus-Sumter (2011-12) and Habersham Central (2013-14) and has a 33-35 record. Pollock was part of Grayson's 2016 state-championship team and worked on Rick Tomberlin's staffs at Washington County and Valdosta. Banks continues to work at Lincoln County in an administrative role. 

*Twiggs County hired M.L. King assistant Kelvin Blackshear to replace Zackery Harris, who was promoted to assistant principal. Blackshear had local support to get the job in 2016 after Ashley Harden stepped down. He has been an assistant coach at Berrien and Lithonia. Twiggs was 0-10 last season. 

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