Most interesting: It was an offseason of the unexpected and too often the tragic. Lowndes’ Randy McPherson, whose teams won state titles in 2004, 2005 and 2007, retired as a head coach just days after his team lost to Marietta in the 2019 championship game. Only a few close to him saw it coming. McPherson remained as athletic director. Hillgrove’s Phillip Ironside left one of the state’s top jobs for Worth County, a struggling Class AA program in south Georgia. Then two coaches passed away suddenly. Mountain View’s Rob Kellogg, a diabetic, died at age 58 in April. Jamie Baldwin of Rockdale County, now a 6A school, died at age 45 in July. He had suffered a sudden severe case of bronchitis,
*Lowndes hired Central of Phenix City (Ala.) head coach Jamey DuBose to replace Randy McPherson. DuBose, an Alabama native, has been the coach for three state championship teams in his home state. His teams at Prattville outside of Montgomery won Class 6A in 2008 and 2011. He came to Central High outside of Columbus, Ga., in 2014. His teams there were 66-11, and his 2018 team finished 14-0. DuBose’s overall record is 137-39. Lowndes was Georgia’s Class AAAAAAA runner-up last season and finished 14-1. McPherson came to Lowndes in 2002. His Lowndes record was 181-46 with eight region titles and three state championships.
*Hillgrove hired Lowndes defensive coordinator Byron Slack to replace Phillip Ironside, who became head coach at Worth County. Slack had been at Lowndes for three seasons. He spent the previous eight on Camden County’s staff, the last five as defensive coordinator. A native of Terrell County, Slack also has coached at Auburn as a graduate assistant, alma mater West Georgia, Minnesota State and Dunwoody. Hillgrove was 7-4 last season and 109-46 in 14 seasons under Ironside, who started the program.
*North Paulding hired Seminole (Fla.) head coach Don Stark to replace Jim Bob Bryant, who became head coach at North Augusta (S.C.). Stark’s record in four seasons at Seminole was 40-6. His overall coaching record is 68-40 in 10 seasons with four district and three conference championships. North Paulding made the playoffs with records of 7-4 and 6-5 under Bryant, who sought to move closer to family in North Carolina.
*Alpharetta hired Hoover (Ala.) offensive coordinator Jason Kervin to replace Jacob Nichols, whose teams were 46-22 with two region titles in six seasons. Kervin was part of six Alabama state-championship teams in his 12 seasons at Hoover, the last five while running the offense. He also has coached at Shelby Academy, where his father, DeWayne Kervin, was head coach for 28 seasons. Jason was the quarterback on his father’s first state championship team at Shelby in 1998. Alpharetta was 7-4 in 2019. Nichols has joined West Forsyth’s staff as offensive coordinator.
*Etowah hired Roswell head coach Matt Kemper to replace Dave Svehla, who became head coach at West Forsyth. Kemper’s Roswell teams were 20-13. They won Region 4-AAAAAAA titles in 2018 and 2019. Etowah was 49-41 under Svehla but has suffered four consecutive losing seasons, although each ended in a playoff berth. Kemper also has been head coach at Johns Creek and Pope.
*Roswell promoted defensive coordinator Chris Prewett to replace Matt Kemper, who became head coach at Etowah. Prewett had worked on Kemper’s staffs at Pope and Johns Creek before following Kemp to Roswell in 2017. He is a former linebacker at Houston County and LaGrange College. Roswell was 8-3 last season and 20-13 in Kemper’s three seasons.
*Denmark hired Mallard Creek (N.C.) head coach Mike Palmieri to replace Terry Crowder, who retired from public schools and became head coach at King’s Ridge Christian. Palmieri’s Mallard Creek teams were 139-34-1 in his 13 seasons there and 136-15-1 over the past 11. Mallard Creek won state titles in 2013, 2014 and 2015 in North Carolina’s highest classification. Four of Palmieri’s players have gone on to the NFL. Denmark has finished 5-5 and 7-3 in its only two seasons, marking one of the best two-year runs this century for a new program. Crowder started the program.
*Lambert hired Lowndes assistant Tommy Watson to replace Louis Daniel, whose teams were 28-36 in six seasons. Watson was head coach at Upson-Lee, his alma mater, from 2008 to 2013 and spent the past five seasons at Lowndes, where he was the run-game coordinator and offensive line coach. Lambert was 0-10 last season under Daniel, who has taken an administrative job with the Alliance Academy for Innovation, Forsyth County’s newest high school.
*West Forsyth hired Etowah head coach Dave Svehla to replace Shawn Cahill, whose teams were 17-16 in three seasons. Svehla led Etowah to the playoffs each of the past seven seasons and had a record of 49-41. Svehla has been a head coach for 11 seasons at Gridley in Illinois and Lincoln Northeast and Raymond Central in his native Nebraska. Cahill is now the offensive coordinator at Chapel Hill.
*Mountain View hired Brookwood defensive coordinator John Poitevint to replace Rob Kellogg, who passed away April 28. Poitevint, an Arkansas native, coached at Dacula (2004-10), Kennesaw Mountain (2011) and Central Gwinnett (2012-14) before Brookwood. Mountain View was 7-4 and 5-6 under Kellogg, who had been on the staff since 2015.
Coming Tuesday: Class 6A
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