New coaches in Class 2A: South Atlanta starts anew after winning first region title

Credit: Courtesy of South Atlanta

Credit: Courtesy of South Atlanta

Class 2A

Number of hires: 12

Best hire: Michael Woolridge, South Atlanta

Hardest to replace: Tim Barron, Heard County

Best job: Heard County

Toughest job: McNair

Most interesting: Region 6 produced a shocking result last season when South Atlanta won its first region title in its 27-year history and Washington earned its first home playoff game in 25 years. The two Atlanta public schools surprisingly finished ahead of private-school rivals Lovett and Pace Academy, which took the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds. This season, South Atlanta, Washington and three other region teams will carry on with new coaches. South Atlanta’s Brad Stephens took the Chapel Hill job. He was replaced by replaced by Michael Woolridge, who did good work at Hardaway of Columbus. Washington brought in Stockbridge defensive coordinator Justin Rivers to replace Derrick Avery, who will remain as athletic director. The new coaches, Woolridge and Rivers, coincidentally are former football teammates at both Hardaway and Eastern Kentucky.

Region 1

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Region 2

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Region 3

*Dodge County hired Bleckley County Middle School head coach and athletic director Ray Hardin to replace Ken Cofer, who became offensive coordinator at Cleburne High in Alabama. Hardin, a first-time head varsity coach at age 61, is a Dodge County alumnus who had been a longtime assistant at Dodge. He also had been Dodge County’s baseball coach. Dodge was 6-4 with a region title last season.

*Jasper County hired Blackmon (Tenn.) defensive coordinator Aaron Pitts to replace Roderick Jackson, who is now the school district’s director of transportation. Pitts, a former Middle Tennessee player from Mississippi, was head coach at Marshall County in Tennessee in 2012 and 2013 and assisted at several other stops in his native state. Jasper County was 2-8 in 2020 and last had a winning season in 2003.

*Lamar County hired Tift County defensive line coach Travis Ellington to replace Jeff Sloan, who remained as athletic director and also became an assistant principal. Ellington, a Tifton native, has assisted at Irwin County, Swainsboro and Toombs County. Lamar County was 4-6 last season.

Region 4

*Oglethorpe County hired Apalachee outside linebackers coach Michael Holland to replace Ronnie Harris, who retired. Holland was at Apalachee for a season and previously worked as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Johnson in Gainesville. He’s also assisted at Clarke Central and West Hall. Oglethorpe was 3-8 in 2020, making the playoffs for the first time since 1998.

*Westside of Augusta hired Richmond Academy defensive coordinator Lee Hutto to replace Jon Wiley, who is taking a break from coaching. Hutto was head coach at Washington-Wilkes (2009-10) and Warren County (2006-08). Hutto then was defensive coordinator at alma mater Thomson and Veterans. Westside was 6-5 in 2020 with its first playoff appearance since 2014 and first winning season since 2006.

Region 5

*Heard County promoted defensive line and special teams coach Shane Lasseter to replace Tim Barron, who became head coach at Villa Rica. Lasseter, a Heard County alumnus, has been Heard’s athletic director the past eight years and coached football for the Braves for the past 17. Barron’s Heard County teams were 153-71 in 19 seasons with seven region titles and the 2018 Class 2A championship.

Region 6

*South Atlanta hired Hardaway coach Michael Woolridge to replace Brad Stephens, who became head coach at Chapel Hill. Woolridge was 29-23 in five seasons at Hardaway, his alma mater and a program that had won only seven games in its previous five seasons. South Atlanta was 7-4 last season and won its first region title.

*McNair hired Lowndes wide receivers coach Mario Drayton to replace Johnny Burdette, who is now Meadowcreek’s running backs coach. Drayton started his coaching career at Berrien in 2006 and also has assisted at Hamilton County in his native Florida, Valwood, Cook and Thomas County Central, most often as an offensive coordinator. He’s a former NAIA baseball All-American at Edward Waters College. McNair has gone 0-5 and 0-10 the past two seasons.

*Therrell hired Douglas County assistant head coach Broderick Jamison, a Therrell alumnus, to replace Greg Sullivan, who remained as athletic director. Jamison was at Douglas County for five seasons and was Hughes’ defensive coordinator the season before that. Therrell was 2-6 last season and most recently had a winning season in 2002.

*Towers hired Salem offensive coordinator and assistant head coach Michael Johnson to replace Vonnell Carter, who resigned to take a break from coaching. Johnson, a Mary Persons graduate, was at Salem for four seasons and the two prior at Baldwin. He also has coached at Wrens and Lowndes middle schools and got his start on football staffs working video at alma mater Valdosta State. Towers was 1-6 in 2020 and last had a winning season in 2009.

*Washington hired Stockbridge defensive coordinator Justin Rivers to replace Derrick Avery, who remained as athletic director. Rivers, a Columbus native, had been at Stockbridge for eight seasons, four ending with region titles. He’s also coached at Jones County and McIntosh. Washington was 7-3 in 2020 and 27-34 in Avery’s six seasons.

Region 7

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Region 8

*Union County hired East Hall coach Michael Perry to replace Brian Allison, who became head coach at newly opened East Forsyth. Perry is 21-20 in four seasons as a head coach at East Hall and Centennial. He has been an assistant at Coffee and Gainesville. He was the offensive coordinator on his alma mater Gainesville’s 2012 Class 5A championship team. Union County was 4-6 in 2020 but 121-77 overall under Allison.

Coming Tuesday: Class A Private

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