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Atlanta high school sports news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Griffin, Carrollton, Cartersville among AAAA powers with new coaches

GHSF Daily is chronicling the many coaching changes in the offseason. We continue today with Class AAAA.

Number of hires: 18

Best hire: Ed Dudley

Hardest to replace: Bob Christmas

Best job: Carrollton

Toughest job: Cross Keys

Most interesting: Reigning state champion Griffin hired Jarrett Laws, a coach with a losing record at rebuilding programs, to replace Steve DeVoursney, who resigned after a five-month investigation into alleged recruiting and academic misconduct. DeVoursney, who won 128 games in 13 seasons at Griffin, denied any wrongdoing.

Region 1

*Americus-Sumter hired assistant principal Dexter Dawson to replace Reggie Mitchell, who was 4-6 in his only season. Dawson, a former Mitchell-Baker and Georgia Southern standout player, was Twiggs County's head coach in 2010 and was an assistant at Southwest (2002-03), Dooly County (2004), Perry (2005), Wilkinson County (2006-08), Lamar County (2009) and Americus-Sumter (2011-12). Mitchell returned to his alma mater, Valdosta, where he is linebackers coach.

Region 2

*Baldwin hired Mays defensive coordinator Lee Hannah to replace Dexter Copeland, who is now head coach at Twiggs County. Hannah had worked under Corey Jarvis at Mays, Duluth and M.L. King and was Grady's interim head coach this past winter after Ronnie Millen was reassigned.

*Upson-Lee hired Harris County coach Tommy Parks to replace Tommy Watson, who is now offensive coordinator at Valdosta. Parks is an Upson County native who played on R.E. Lee's 1988 state championship team. Parks was 54-54 in 11 seasons at Harris County. The 9-3 finish in 2013 marked the most victories in school history, which dates to 1956.

Region 3

*Thomson hired Glynn Academy coach Rob Ridings to replace Milan Turner. Ridings, a Knoxville native, was 67-43 in 10 seasons at Glynn and put the Red Terrors in the playoffs eight of the past nine seasons. Turner, who was 24-10 in his three seasons at Thomson, joined Robbie Pruitt's staff at Coffee.

Region 4

*Griffin hired Drew coach Jarrett Laws to replace Steve DeVoursney. Laws is 31-39 in seven seasons as a head coach of rebuilding programs at Drew and Mount Zion of Jonesboro. A Florida native, Laws began coaching at Wharton High in Tampa and was offensive coordinator for a team that reached Florida's Class 5A championship game in 2002. Laws started a program at Tampa's Freedom High and coached there for two seasons. DeVoursney is now the defensive coordinator at Cairo.

*Hampton, a new school in Henry County, hired White Oak (N.C.) coach Chad Ashley to start a program that will jump into a full region schedule this season. A graduate of Savannah's Windsor Forest, Ashley was defensive coordinator for five seasons at North Carolina state power New Hanover before taking the White Oak job in 2012.

*Mount Zion of Jonesboro hired Dutchtown coach Kevin "Bull'' Jones to replace Ervin Starr, who was 1-19 in two seasons. Jones was 4-6 in one season at Dutchtown. He was defensive coordinator for Lovejoy's state runner-up teams in 2011 and 2012. Starr remains at Mount Zion, where he is an assistant boys basketball coach.

Region 5

*Carrollton hired Ware County coach Ed Dudley to replace Rayvan Teague, who retired from coaching with a career record of 220-69-1 and took a job as athletics director and assistant principal at Westside High in Anderson, S.C. Dudley, the defensive coordinator at Carrollton (1988-91) before getting his first head coaching job, is 183-75 as a head coach with stops at Ware (2009-13), Walton (1995-2008) and Buford (1992-94). His teams have reached the quarterfinals six of the past 10 seasons.

Region 6

*Cross Keys, a school with only seven victories in nine seasons, hired Kevin Saunders, whose career record is 144-77 and includes a state championship in Virginia. Saunders was head coach the past five seasons at Gretna, where his record was 49-15. Gretna won Virginia's Class 2A championship in 2011. Saunders replaces David Radford, who coached the Indians for the past six seasons.

*Grady hired alumnus and former NFL player Earthwind Moreland to replace Ronnie Millen, who was reassigned after it was found the team had several players not living in Grady's school district last season, resulting in eight forfeits. Moreland, a seven-year NFL veteran who played on the Patriots' 2005 Super Bowl championship team, has been an assistant coach at Grady and North Atlanta. Millen was 107-42 in 13 seasons at Grady, not counting forfeits that wiped out eight victories in 2013. Millen is teaching P.E. at Heritage Academy Elementary in Atlanta and is not coaching.

*Redan hired former McNair head coach Roderick Moore to replace Willie Griffieth, who was 3-17 in two seasons. Moore was 26-18 at McNair (2005-08). He then was defensive coordinator at Southwest DeKalb, Columbia and Creekside Christian Academy in McDonough. He also spent a preseason at Savannah State until the staff was let go. Griffieth remains at Redan and is the boys track and field coach.

*Stone Mountain hired Stephenson Middle coach Chaka Mason to replace Dante Ferguson, who was 22-28 in five seasons. Stephenson Middle was a region champion in 2013 and county runner-up in 2012. Mason was an assistant for three seasons (2009-11) at Arabia Mountain, where Ferguson is now on the coaching staff.

Region 7

*Cartersville hired Carrollton offensive coordinator Joey King to replace Frank Barden, who left for the Stephens County job after 20 seasons and a 160-72-1 record. King, a Cedartown graduate, ran Carrollton's offense during state runner-up seasons in 2010 and 2013.

*Heritage of Ringgold hired Red Bank (Tenn.) coach E.K. Slaughter to replace Tim James, who started the program in 2008 and had one winning season (7-3 in 2011). Slaughter also has been a head coach at Cleveland and Soddy-Daisy in Tennessee.

Region 8

*Chestatee promoted defensive coordinator Bill Forman to replace Stan Luttrell, who resigned to take a job as an assistant at Buford. Forman is a former head coach at Athens Christian (2008-09) and other schools in Florida and Texas.

*Monroe Area hired Baker County (Fla.) offensive coordinator Joey Sulkowski to replace the retiring Matt Fligg. Sulkowski, a Tift County graduate, has spent most of his coaching career in college ball with stops at Johnson C. Smith, Greensboro College and North Carolina A&T. Fligg was a head coach in Georgia for the past 21 seasons and led Monroe Area to a 41-8 record over the past four.

*North Hall promoted its offensive coordinator of the past 13 seasons, David Bishop, to replace Bob Christmas, who took a job as head coach at Jefferson Forest (Va.). Bishop and Christmas had coached together since 1996, including a stop in Bainbridge (1997-2000). Christmas was 105-46 in his 13 seasons at North Hall.

*Stephens County hired Cartersville coach Frank Barden to replace Travis Noland, who took the Oconee County job. Barden was 160-72-1 in 20 seasons in Cartersville and won a state title in 1999.

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