More than 60 schools have hired new head football coaches this off-season in Georgia.
Here is a look at the 10 best hires: 1. Mark Pemberton, West Laurens:
Pemberton led Catholic High of Knoxville to a 15-0 record and the Class AAA title in Tennessee last year and was 78-11 in his seven seasons there. Pemberton is bringing his Wing-T option offense and his defensive coordinator, Devin Smith, to an underachieving middle Georgia school in Class AAA that hasn’t won a playoff game in more than 10 years. Pemberton says he was surprised at the talent he saw when he began studying them. "The first time I saw them on film, I was pleasantly surprised at the athletes they had coming back," Pemberton said. "I think we're going to be very competitive in our starting 11 on both side of the ball."2. T. McFerrin, Jefferson:
McFerrin, a 301-game winner who has come out of a five-year retirement, ranks eighth all-time in victories among coaches who have spent the majority of their career in Georgia. McFerrin was former University of Georgia quarterback David Greene's coach at South Gwinnett. McFerrin's 1995 Elbert County team won the Class AA title. It was former Elbert principal John Jackson who talked McFerrin into coming to Jefferson, which doesn’t require much rebuilding. The Dragons won Region 8-AA last season under Bill Navas, who left to take an administrative position at a bigger school.3. Charlie Winslette, Greene County:
Winslette led this Class AA school in Greensboro to its only state title in 1993. Winslette also won a state title at West Rome in 1985. In fact, he’s been a head coach at eight Georgia schools. He’s one of four coaches to lead four schools to the state semifinals. One of the others is T. McFerrin (above).4. Ed Dudley, Ware County:
One of the more surprising moves of the off-season was Dudley’s decision to leave Class AAAAA power Walton, an affluent school in the metro Atlanta suburbs, for Ware County, a South Georgia school near the Okefenokee Swamp on the Florida border. At Walton, Dudley reached the state semifinals in 2004 and 2007. Ware reached the Class AAAA final in 2007 but has been viewed as an underachiever since it and rival Waycross merged in the early 1990s.5. Kevin Whitley, Stockbridge:
Stockbridge was 1-9 last year and has not played a postseason game since 1983 and lacks any substantial booster support. That’s why it was surprising that the Class AAAA school was able to lure Creekside head coach Kevin Whitley, a former NFL and CFL player and All-American from Georgia Southern under Paul Johnson, now head coach at Georgia Tech. Creekside was 52-14 in six seasons under Whitley and made the playoffs each of the past five years. Whitley was the high school head coach of Tennessee All-American Eric Berry. 6. Sid Maxwell, Lambert:
Maxwell was 97-67 in 15 seasons as head coach at Sequoyah in Canton. He was part of the staff that started the Sequoyah program, which has made the playoffs in eight of the past 11 seasons. Lambert will be a similar kind of build, and Maxwell is well-suited to do it.7. Mac Thompson, Cook:
Thompson, hired from a pool of more than 100 applicants, was 28-9 in three seasons at Calera in Alabama. Thompson also had been an assistant at Hoover (Ala.). Cook was 6-6 last season, and he’s bringing the spread offense to Cook, a Class A school that has made the quarterfinals or better five times this decade but was 6-6 last season under Jim Scroggins, who retired.8. James Teter, Sequoyah:
Teter, hired to replace Maxwell, was 41-33 in seven seasons at Dunwoody, which had suffered three straight losing seasons when he took over and started 0-10 under Teter. Dunwoody reached the Class AAA quarterfinals last year and finished 12-1. Teter will bring a similar option offense, so the transition should be smooth.9. Jarrett Laws, Drew:
The newest school in Clayton County, Drew hired Laws, head coach of Mount Zion of Jonesboro. Mount Zion reached the Class AAAA quarterfinals last season in Laws' second season in Jonesboro. Laws is moving from one Clayton County school to another, so he’s well-versed in the challenges he’ll face.10. Harry Miles, North Cobb Christian:
Miles was the 2008 Savannah Morning News
coach of the year after Johnson was 5-6 in Miles' second season after finishing 0-10 the previous two years. A former tackle at The Citadel, Miles held coordinator positions at Savannah Country Day (2000-03) and Savannah Christian (2004-06) before coming to Johnson. North Cobb Christian is just getting football started and was 0-7 last season playing a partial varsity program.Todd Holcomb writes a free email newsletter called Georgia High School Football Daily. You may click here to join his mailing list.