High school notebook: Youngest coach, underrated players

by: GHSF Daily Updated:

ATLANTA - James Leonard of Aquinas is believed to be the youngest head football coach in the GHSA, although it cannot be confirmed easily. Augusta Chronicle writer Wayne Staats asked us to verify. So did Leonard himself. We’ve begun compiling birthdates for Georgia’s head coaches. So far, we have them for 221 of 412 coaches. Here are the 10 youngest among those 221:

26.4 – James Leonard, Aquinas

28.11 – Adam Carter, Bradwell Institute

29.11 – Rico Zackery, Central (Carroll)

30.7 – James Soza, North Clayton

30.11 – Marcus Jelks, Lithonia

30.11 – Tim McClain, Glenn Hills

31.7 – Shelton Carleton, McNair

31.8 – Joshua Moore, B.E.S.T. Academy

31.9 – Jason Respert, Douglas County

32.2 – David Bruce, Veterans

Note: If you are a head coach who has not provided your birthdate, e-mail us at ghsfdaily@bellsouth.net.

B.E.S.T. coach plays scrimmage match maker

B.E.S.T. Academy coach Joshua Moore did a little scrambling on Thursday when he found out that his team was under contract to play two scrimmage games next weekend – one against New Manchester, the other against Hapeville Charter. GHSA rules allow only one. Moore knew about the Hapeville scrimmage on Aug. 17. He scheduled that one himself. What he didn’t know was that New Manchester was expecting to play his team on Aug. 16 and posted as much on its football Web site. New Manchester scrimmaged B.E.S.T. last year. Moore didn’t realize the contract, which he did not draw up, was a two-year deal. “I really hate that we put these teams in this position,” Moore said. “I would never do this intentionally. Whoever we play, I’m going to help the other team find an opponent.” And that’s what Moore did. He agreed to play New Manchester on Aug. 16, and he got an opponent for Hapeville in KIPP Collegiate Academy, another Atlanta school system program. B.E.S.T, New Manchester and Hapeville all played their first full varsity seasons in 2012. KIPP remains a year away from that.

Columbus schools make money on the road

Hardaway and Carver of Columbus stand to make $20,000 or more for playing home games at Region 1-AAAAAA schools in 2012 and 2013, according to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Reporter David Mitchell reports that seven Columbus-area teams raised more than $109,000 by selling their home games and two road games in two seasons against opponents that agreed to pay them more than they would make if they played one of the games in the two-game series at home. The practice is not unusual and certainly not unique to Columbus, but Mitchell shed light on it by digging up the numbers. Hardaway is getting $24,000 for playing at Lowndes in 2012 and 2013. Carver is getting $20,000 for playing at Colquitt County for those seasons. “Our home region games do not bring in much gate, so anything I can do to boost the income, I try to do,” Hardaway’s Jeff Battles told the newspaper. Coaches noted that the money isn’t pure profit. The cost of travel cuts into it.

Like a brother to the head coach

At least four head coaches have hired brothers onto their staffs this season. Craig Bennett of Cambridge hired Chris Bennett, formerly head coach at North Forsyth. At Locust Grove, Clint Satterfield brought his brother, Rodney, from Chattahoochee to be the new offensive coordinator. At Perry, new coach Erik Soliday has brought along his brother Casey to be offensive coordinator. The two also were together at Turner County. Corey Joyner of Dougherty hired Uyl Joyner to be his offensive coordinator. Uyl Joyner held the same job at Albany State. Corey and Uyl are former star players at Dougherty. Uyl Joyner was quarterback of Dougherty’s 1998 state championship team.

Woerner: Living up to a name

Rabun County’s best player last season, when the Wildcats had a winning season (6-5) for the first time since 2000 under first-year coach Lee Shaw, might’ve been a freshman. At safety, Charlie Woerner made more than 100 tackles (90 solo), intercepted four passes and blocked three kicks. At receiver, he had 28 catches for 773 yards and scored three touchdowns. Woerner is getting looks from Georgia, where an uncle, Scott Woerner, was an All-America safety and fabled punt returner on the national championship team in 1980.

Sign of the times at North Oconee

North Oconee lost two of its better players who transferred to Prince Avenue Christian, now coached by Jeff Herron. They are junior SS/RB Zantravious Shields and sophomore RB/CB Kevon Hudson. Both have great speed, which is just what Prince Avenue needs. But for North Oconee, doors opened as others closed as the Titans’ best linemen this season might be incoming transfers of their own. RT Preston Langley (6-4, 285) came from Morgan County, and OC Logan Thomas (6-0, 310) came from State College, Pa. Logan’s father, John Thomas, formerly of Penn State, is the new associate director of strength and conditioning at Georgia.

Dooly still fine without Adams

Dooly County made the Class A private-school championship game last season with an All-America defensive lineman named Montravius Adams, now at Auburn. Even without Adams, the team might be better now because of the strong rising senior class. Five returning players got some all-state consideration last season – guard Larry Glover (305 pounds), Courtney Clark (49 receptions), Chanin Hamilton (1,480 yards rushing), strong safety Tay Daniels and defensive back Kereon Merrell (eight interceptions). The best player is probably Daniels, though he’s overlooked because of his size (5-8, 170). “He is not very big but has great speed, strength and heart,” Dooly County coach Jimmy Hughes said. “This will be his fourth year starting at strong safety for us. [He has] been all-region every year.”

New QB at Northside

Glenn Smith might be the best player at Northside of Warner Robins. He is the quarterback who passed for 1,200 yards and rushed for 900 in 2012. This season, he’ll be playing receiver and running back to make room for Marcus Ivory, who is the brother of fabled Northside QB Marques Ivory, who led the team to state titles in 2006 and 2007. Smith might still take as many as 20 snaps at QB, per Northside’s offensive coordinator. Despite few if any top prospects, Northside should be a state contender again. Other top players are DB Darius Holmes and OT Brandon Sandifer.

Underrated I: John Chastain

North Murray LB John Chastain will be a fourth-year starter this season. Chastain had more than 100 tackles as a junior and sophomore and 78 as a freshman. Give him credit for enduring 0-10 and 1-9 seasons until North Murray broke through at 5-5 last season. Many whose dream is playing college football don’t have the faith to endure that. He is getting looks from Georgia State, Georgia Southern, Chattanooga and Wofford. He’s 6 feet, 225 pounds, runs a 4.6 40 and benches 400 pounds.

Underrated II: Grant Drakeford

Another star player willing to stick it out with a losing team has been Grant Drakeford, a four-year starter at Riverwood, which broke through last season with its first winning season since 2001 despite moving up two classifications. Drakeford returned three punts and a kickoff for touchdowns, rushed for 689 yards and nine touchdowns and passed for 498 yards and seven touchdowns in 2012. He played quarterback in the triple option. He had 37 tackles and forced three fumbles at free safety. In the final game against 9-1 Creekview, a triple overtime loss that would have put Riverwood in the playoffs for the first time since 2001, Drakeford was on the field for 134 plays. “Grant is a selfless player that rarely came off the field because of his big-play potential,” Riverwood coach Alan Ingram said. “That was pivotal in the revival of the Riverwood football program.”

Hall of Fame calls on Davis’ birthday

Wallace Davis, who retired as head coach of Carver of Columbus in 2005 after 29 seasons, celebrated his 70th birthday last weekend and got a surprise phone call that he had been elected to the Lincoln University Hall of Fame. Friends, family and former players were there to celebrate it. Davis was coach to future NFL players Brentson Buckner, Rod Hood, Daryll Jones and Nate Odomes. Davis’ son, Ryan Davis, is a longtime assistant coach at Woodward Academy.

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