Allatoona’s Varner retires; led football team to 2015 state title

Allatoona coach Gary Varner, whose 2015 team was the first in Cobb County Schools history to win a football state championship, is retiring.

Varner started Allatoona’s program in 2008 and won 129 games, four region titles and the 2015 Class 5A championship.

Varner said that he has had surgeries related to cancer the past five years, and while the prognosis is good, he said the most recent in April took longer required a longer recover than he hoped.

‘’I was able to make it through the season, but it was tough with the physical demands of full-time teaching and full-time head coaching,’’ Varner said. “So (the retirement) is more of a medical thing. Everything at Allatoona has been great the whole 15 years. There’s nothing in the negative there. It was time for me to take a step back.’’

Varner and his wife, Emily, have five children. Spending more time with family was another motivation to step down.

Varner’s 2015 team lost its opener to East Paulding 17-10, then won 14 straight games to win the championship. The Buccaneers defeated Glynn Academy 10-6 for the title in the Georgia Dome.

Varner grew up in Syracuse, N.Y., and came to Georgia in 1996 to work at Pebblebrook, then at newly opened Kell. He was Roswell’s offensive coordinator from 2004 to 2007, including for the ‘06 state-championship season.

That helped earn him the Allatoona job when the school opened in 2008 in northwest Cobb County.

Varner said his best memories would be his fellow coaches and staff.

“We’ve been together, many of us, almost the whole time,’’ Varner said. “I’d never think you could do that and have that many years together. It gave it a family-friendly environment. Then there were the kids. Fifteen years of kids is a lot. There are a lot of great stories. The whole thing has been great for me.’’