LaGrange’s Napier among 9 new head coaches in Class 4A

Number of hires: 9

Best hire: Matt Napier, LaGrange

Hardest to replace: Jason Cameron, Jenkins

Best job: LaGrange

Toughest job: Southeast Whitfield

Most interesting: After winning three state titles the first part of the century, LaGrange football began to tail off about the time that county rival Callaway picked up. Callaway has won seven region titles since 2008, all with Matt Napier running the offenses. So LaGrange hired Napier this offseason. This will be his first job as a head coach. Napier is a son of the late Bill Napier, a longtime Georgia head coach in northwest Georgia, and a brother of Billy Napier, the head coach of Louisiana at LaFayette. Kurt Napier, also a former Callaway assistant, coaches at Murray County. Speaking with Kevin Eckleberry of the LaGrange News, Matt said of his father, who died in 2017 after a long battle with ALS, “He was everything to me and my brothers. He was what we wanted to be. He’s why I wanted to be a head football coach.”

Region 1


Region 2

*LaGrange hired Callaway offensive coordinator Matt Napier to replace Chuck Gibbs, who was let go after two 2-8 seasons. Napier worked on county rival Callaway’s staff the past 15 seasons. LaGrange was 0-10 before Gibbs’ arrived and has lost 23 consecutive region games. LaGrange won state titles in 2001, 2003 and 2004 but hasn’t had a winning season since 2009. Gibbs has returned to working in the stock market but remains in LaGrange, where his son, Kale, is a senior running back/defensive back on the team.

Region 3

*Islands promoted interim head coach DeShawn Printup to replace Robert Zoller, who was forced out with five assistants last season after the team forfeited five games for violating GHSA recruiting bylaws. Printup took over for the final three games, two of them victories. He had been the defensive backs coach. Printup also has coached at his alma mater, Calhoun. He was a defensive back at Savannah State. Zoller still teaches in the Chatham County Schools system.

*Jenkins hired Tucker wide receivers coach Gene Clemons to replace Jason Cameron, who became head coach at Vidalia. Clemons was at Tucker for one season and was offensive coordinator at Lakeside in DeKalb County before that. Clemons has been a head coach at Westwood (2011-12) and Vanguard (2009-10) in Florida and Randolph-Macon Academy (2006) in Virginia.

Region 4

*Spalding hired Griffin wide receivers coach Carl Kearney to replace Jeff Hammond, who was 1-9 in one season. Kearney has coached at Griffin, his alma mater, since 2016. He previously coached at Apopka in Alabama. Kearney was a Georgia Southern wide receiver who signed on to NFL practice squads. Hammond, who had been Colquitt County’s offensive coordinator, has taken that role at Coffee.

Region 5

*Luella promoted Craig Coleman to replace Jason Jackson, who became defensive coordinator at Villa Rica. Coleman has spent 30 seasons on football sidelines, the past two at Luella. He’s a former defensive coordinator at Mundy’s Mill. He has been on the staffs of Savannah State, Clark Atlanta, Morehouse, Morris Brown and several schools around his native Ohio. Luella hasn’t had a winning season since 2008.

*Mount Zion (Jonesboro) hired Williamette University defensive coordinator and former NFL linebacker Buster Davis to replace Kevin “Bull” Jones. Davis also has assisted at East Hall, Pinecrest Academy, Southern Oregon University and Glenville State College on the defensive side. Davis was a head coach in Florida at McArthur in 2014 and Duval Charter in 2012. Davis is a former All-ACC player at Florida State who spent three seasons in the NFL. Mount Zion has not had a winning season since 2009. Jones is now North Atlanta’s defensive coordinator.

Region 6

*Druid Hills hired Mundy’s Mill defensive coordinator Mark Myers to replace Rosaria Rice, who returned to coaching basketball at the school. Myers has been head coach at Riverwood (2017) and Dutchtown (2014-16). He has assisted at Henry County and alma mater McEachern. Druid Hills has not had a winning season since 1993.

Region 7

*Cedartown hired McEachern defensive coordinator Jamie Abrams to replace Doyle Kelley, who has retired. Abrams was Lamar County’s head coach in 2014-15. His teams were 15-7-1. He was the defensive coordinator on the 2013 team that made the Class 2A final. He’s also coached at Ware County, Dublin, South Paulding, East Paulding and two schools in Alabama. Cedartown was 20-14 in three seasons under Kelley, 5-6 in 2019.

*Southeast Whitfield promoted offensive coordinator Todd Murray to replace Sean Gray, who stepped down after eight season. Murray has coached at Southeast the past 16 seasons. He is the son of Don Murray, a former 13-year Northwest Whitfield head coach who died Jan. 10. Southeast Whitfield was 0-10 in 2019 and elected to play a non-region schedule in 2020. Gray, a Southeast alumnus, is now coaching at Valley Point Middle, a feeder school to Southeast.

Region 8


Coming Friday: Class 3A