Eight DeKalb County coaches will begin preseason football practice next week at new schools and one program may not have a coach in place by then.
Miller Grove, whose principal was demoted last week, had not filled its football coaching vacancy by press deadline on July 27. Jasper Jewell, the only coach the Wolverines have had, left last month to take a job as an athletic coordinator with Atlanta Public Schools.
Former Brainerd (Chattanooga, Tenn.) High School coach Marvin Jones is the most recent hire. Jones was hired about six weeks ago to replace Jonathan Sanks at Towers. Sanks left to become the new head coach at Berkmar High School in Gwinnett County.
Jones played high school football at Crim in Atlanta under former Redan and Towers head coach Ronnie Fleetwood, who was then the offensive coordinator at Crim. This is Jones’ first head coaching job in Georgia, although he took Brainerd to the state playoffs three of the five seasons he coached the team.
Jones is getting his team ready without the benefit of spring practice as Sanks left before the Titans were scheduled to participate in spring drills.
But there is another issue that may be a bigger obstacle for Jones. He is trying to fill his coaching staff but that task has been complicated by a lack of teacher openings at Towers, Jones said.
“A lot of the coaches left with coach Sanks, and it’s been a trying situation to get good, quality coaches in the area,” Jones said. Since I’m from the area, a couple of coaches have given me some names of guys in the area who have been coaching a while.”
Jones will try to lead Towers to back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since 1988-89. The Titans were 7-4 last season and landed their first berth in the state playoffs since 2004 under Fleetwood.
“Not having spring practice hurts the passing game a little, but we’re catching up basically,” Jones said. “We’re going full speed ahead.”
Like Jones, several of the new coaches have ties to the county. Clinton Lawrence at Redan and Marcus Jelks at Lithonia each were assistant coaches at their schools a year ago. New Dunwoody coach Jim Showfety coached Chamblee for one season and led them to the Class AAA semifinals in 2007. Also, Mike Carson left Avondale after two seasons to replace Corey Jarvis at M.L. King.
The other new coaches are James Soza at Chamblee, Tywanios Lockett at McNair and Byron McCall at Avondale.
“Everything is coming together,” Jones said. “We’re in a strong region and it’s going to be tough on any given Friday night.”