Robert Edwards, Joe Sturdivant among 15 new coaches in Class 2A

Number of hires: 15

Best hire: Robert Edwards, Washington County

Hardest to replace: Jonathan Gess, Eagle’s Landing Christian

Best job: Eagle’s Landing Christian

Toughest job: Jordan

Most interesting: Washington County had a good coach. Joel Ingram had a 131-58-1 record in 16 seasons with four region titles and a state runner-up finish. What it lacked was the magic of the 1990s, when the Golden Hawks won three state titles. So Washington County made a bold move and tapped into its glory days with the hire of local legend Robert Edwards, whose 1992 senior class took WaCo to the state finals and sparked a dynasty. The program would win three state championships with Edwards’ brother, Terrence, guiding the final two as quarterback. Robert and Terrence went on to star at Georgia.

Region 1

*Cook hired Colquitt County defensive line coach Byron Slack to replace Jamie Rodgers, who became head coach at Bradford in Florida. Slack was Hillgrove’s coach in 2020, Lowndes’ defensive coordinator from 2017 to 2019 and a Camden County assistant from 2005 to 2016. Cook was 14-19 in Rodgers’ three seasons, 5-6 in 2021.

*Sumter County hired Dutchtown head coach Clifford Fedd to replace Ross Couch, who is now Marion County’s offensive coordinator. Fedd’s Dutchtown teams were 43-16 in five seasons. His top player there was current Alabama All-American Will Anderson. Fedd has been on staffs at Brooks County (2001-07, 2011-17) and Berrien (2008-10). Sumter County has gone 1-7 and 1-8 the past two seasons.

*Worth County hired Coffee offensive coordinator Jeff Hammond to replace Philip Ironside, the former Hillgrove coach who returned to Cobb County and joined Osborne’s staff. Hammond was Spalding’s coach in 2019. He was on Colquitt’s staff twice (2008-12 and 2016-18) and also worked at Foley in Alabama (2013-15). Worth County was 4-6 in each of Ironside’s two seasons.

Region 2

*ACE Charter hired Mount de Sales head coach Keith Hatcher to replace Sam Zanders, who became interim coach one game into the 2021 season and is now Georgia Southern’s assistant strength-and-conditioning coach. Hatcher’s Mount de Sales teams were 46-39 in eight seasons with a 2019 region title. Hatcher, a Mount de Sales alumnus, has coached at Valdosta State, Georgia Southern and Murray State under cousin Chris Hatcher and worked at UAB under Watson Brown. ACE, a Macon charter school, was 4-5 in 2021, its fourth varsity season.

*Jordan hired Richards Middle School head coach Kadale Jenkins to replace Dale Overton, who remained a teacher in the Muscogee County school system. Jenkins has assisted at Kendrick and Shaw and coached at four Columbus-area middle schools in a 12-year coaching career. Jordan played and lost three games in 2021 and forfeited the rest of its season because of declining participation and other factors.

*Kendrick hired Griffin co-defensive coordinator Robert Martin to replace Andre Slappey, who joined Lee County’s staff as the defensive line coach. Martin, a Douglass High and Morehouse graduate, was on staffs at Banneker, Grady, South Atlanta and B.E.S.T. Academy before joining Griffin in 2019. Kendrick has won only four games over the past six seasons.

Region 3

None

Region 4

*Washington County hired Riverwood coach Robert Edwards to replace Joel Ingram. Edwards, a former Washington County, Georgia and NFL standout, led Riverwood to its best four-year record in history, going 32-11 and winning region titles in 2019 and 2021. Edwards was head coach at Greene County for six seasons before moving to metro Atlanta. Washington County was 131-58-1 in 16 seasons under Ingram and 5-5 last season, with all losses against ranked teams. Ingram is now Dublin’s assistant head coach in charge of the interior offensive line.

Region 5

*Towers hired Cross Keys coach John Bowen to replace Michael Johnson, who is now Mary Persons’ receivers coach and recruiting coordinator. Towers was 3-7 in Johnson’s only season, the Titans’ best finish since 2017. Bowen, known for taking extra-challenging jobs, has been a Georgia head coach for 26 seasons at Cross Keys, Montgomery County, Hephzibah, Glascock County and John Hancock Academy.

*Eagle’s Landing Christian promoted defensive coordinator and alumnus Tanner Rogers to replace Jonathan Gess, who became head coach at Hebron Christian. Rogers played at Charleston Southern and began his coaching career there as a graduate assistant in 2015-16. He was on Habersham Central’s staff for three seasons before coming to ELCA in 2020. Rogers was a key starter on ELCA’s 2010 team that was the school’s first to win a GHSA region title, setting the stage for a dominant decade.

Region 6

*B.E.S.T. Academy hired Jones County defensive backs coach Bernard Goodrum to replace Joshua Moore, who remained as athletic director. Goodrum was defensive coordinator at Faulkner University in 2019 and 2020. He worked three years at Copiah-Lincoln Community College. He’s a Spalding High alumnus and former all-conference player at Fort Valley State. B.E.S.T. was 36-67 with five playoff appearances in 10 seasons under Moore.

*KIPP Atlanta Collegiate hired James Briscoe as interim coach to replace Coy Brown, who remained as athletic director. Briscoe has coached at KIPP since 2017 and was the team’s head coach in 2019. KIPP has posted one winning season (7-4 in 2016) since it began football in 2013. KIPP was 1-8 in 2021.

*Mount Paran Christian promoted defensive coordinator Matt Ely to replace Mitch Jordan, who remained as athletic director. Ely has been at Mount Paran since 2016. He was Cherokee’s defensive coordinator and strength coach from 2012 to 2016. He’s also worked at Chapel Hill. Mount Paran was 101-55 in 11 seasons under Jordan, who started the program and led it to a Class A title in 2014.

*Walker promoted defensive coordinator Tom Evangelista to replace Tom Evans, who became Pace Academy’s offensive coordinator. Evangelista has been at Walker since 2019. He’d previously coached at Holy Innocents’. Most of his coaching has been spent at the college level with stops at West Georgia, West Alabama, South Carolina State, Furman and Presbyterian. He was a Clemson graduate assistant. Walker has finished 1-9 the past two seasons and will play a non-region schedule in 2022.

Region 7

*Murray County hired Gladden Middle School head coach Kurt Napier to replace Chadwick Brewer, who is now Coahulla Creek’s assistant head coach. Napier is the son of Bill Napier, Murray’s head coach from 1991 to 2006, and is a former Murray County quarterback. He’s also the younger brother of Billy Napier, Florida’s head coach. Kurt has been at Murray County the past five seasons, serving as co-defensive coordinator before taking over the middle school team. He’s also coached at Callaway and Thomas County Central. Murray County was 26-65 in nine seasons under Brewer.

Region 8

*Providence Christian hired Rabun Gap head coach Joe Sturdivant to replace Jonathan Beverly, who became the offensive line/run game coordinator at Flowery Branch. Sturdivant was a star player on Parkview’s 2000 and 2001 state championship teams. Rabun Gap, a Northeast Georgia boarding school that was runner-up the past two seasons in a North Carolina independent school league, had five players sign with Power Five conference programs in December. Sturdivant previously coached for four years in Germany and Belgium. He was IMG Academy’s defensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014. He began his coaching career as a student assistant at SMU, where he played. Providence Christian hasn’t had a winning season in program history, which dates to 2012.

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