Pace football coach Slade steps down

INTO THE FINALS--December 4, 2015 - Norcross, Ga: Pace Academy head coach Chris Slade, facing, celebrates with offensive coordinator Kevin Johnson after their win over GAC in the Class AA semi-final at Greater Atlanta Christian, Friday, December 4, 2015, in Norcross, Ga. Pace Academy defeated GAC 45-20. PHOTO / JASON GETZ

Credit: Jason Getz

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INTO THE FINALS--December 4, 2015 - Norcross, Ga: Pace Academy head coach Chris Slade, facing, celebrates with offensive coordinator Kevin Johnson after their win over GAC in the Class AA semi-final at Greater Atlanta Christian, Friday, December 4, 2015, in Norcross, Ga. Pace Academy defeated GAC 45-20. PHOTO / JASON GETZ

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

Chris Slade, the football coach who led Pace Academy to its first state title in 2015, has resigned after nine seasons.

Slade’s overall record was 59-42. The Knights were 6-5 in 2021 and lost in the first round for the sixth straight season.

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A Class A school by enrollment, Pace has elected to play in higher classifications since 2014 to compete with more local rivals such as Buckhead neighbor Lovett. Pace successfully petitioned to move into Class 4A next year.

“I challenge any school in the state of Georgia to do what we’ve accomplished with a program in existence less than 15 years with the numbers we’ve had,’’ said Slade, adding that Pace typically dresses out only 40 varsity players. “We’ve had 36 college players, two All-Americans, three in the NFL, eight consecutive playoff appearances, an elite eight and a state championship.”

Pace played its first varsity game in 2008 and won its first playoff game in 2014, the second season under Slade, a former All-Pro linebacker with the New England Patriots.

The 2015 team, led by future Georgia stars Andrew Thomas and Jamaree Salyer, won four straight road playoff games to reach the final, then defeated Fitzgerald 45-21 for the Class 2A championship. Slade remains the only African-American football coach to win a state title at a Georgia private school.

Pace has not won more than six games in a season since, though the record is deflated partially by scheduling tough non-region opponents. This past season was the first in which Pace was not ranked in the top 10 at some point during the season.

“The administration and the football program came to a stalemate, and I believe it’s in the self interest of both that I step down,’’ Slade said. “At a place like Pace, you’ve got to have the backing and complete support to play in late November, which has always been my goal.’’

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