Gainesville hired Winder-Barrow head coach Heath Webb this week to replace the retiring Bruce Miller while Dougherty in Albany has picked former Georgia assistant Olten Downs as its new head football coach.
Webb has been Winder-Barrow’s head coach the past four seasons, each ending in playoff appearances. Winder-Barrow had not made the playoffs since 2003 until Webb arrived in 2014. The 2017 team finished 9-3 and won the school’s first playoff game since 1993.
Webb in 2008 started the football program at North Paulding, where his top player was former Georgia and current NFL wide receiver Chris Conley.
Webb will be inheriting a tradition-rich program at Gainesville that has finished 4-7 and 5-6 the past two seasons under Miller, who led the Red Elephants to eight region titles before the recent downturn. Gainesville won the Class AAAAA championship with Deshaun Watson in 2012.
Gainesville has beaten Winder-Barrow all six times they’ve played since 2012, when the two northeast Georgia schools became members of the same region. Last season’s result, a 38-16 win for Gainesville, was considered an upset.
At Dougherty, Downs will be back in high school coaching, where he made his mark particularly at Creekside in south Fulton County. Downs’ 2013 Seminoles team went 15-0 and won the Class AAAAA championship. That was the first south Fulton team to win a state title since 1983.
Georgia in 2015 hired Downs as assistant director of player development. Downs became a quality control coordinator for offense in 2015 and was Georgia’s wide receivers coach for the TaxSlayer Bowl victory over Penn State after head coach Mark Richt was let go.
Downs was on Georgia Southern’s staff last season working with defensive backs until Southern fired head coach Tyson Summers.
Dougherty has not had a winning season since 2008. Its 2017 head coach, Corey Joyner, recently was hired as head coach at Carver in Columbus.
According to WALB-TV in Albany, Downs has not officially accepted the job but is expected to. The board of education voted to approve the job offer Monday.