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Filling three key slots a big job for school board

By Walter Geiger It is not unusual for school personnel ‘“ especially coaches ‘“ to move on to what they perceive to be greener pastures in the early spring but the Lamar County board of education has its work cut out for it in replacing its superintendent, high school principal and head football coach. Superintendent Dr. Bill Truby announced his intention to move up to the college level some months back. Then, last week, LCCHS principal Derick Austin accepted a job as an assistant superintendent at Putnam County and head football coach Franklin Stephens took the coaching job at Ware County in Waycross. Truby and Austin are under contract until June 30. Coaches generally leave earlier in order to run spring practices at their new schools after negotiations between superintendents. Ware County has not yet sought such negotiations but is expected to, Truby said last week. The school board is left with a mammoth challenge but will lean on Truby for help. ’It’s really not new. We’ve known Austin and Stephens were looking around. They’ve been looking around. We kept our superintendent and principal here longer than the average system does,’ board chairman Susan Byars said. Truby noted the ideal situation would be for a new superintendent to come on board. He or she would then be instrumental in hiring a principal who would, in turn, be heavily involved in hiring a new head coach. That may not transpire in this situation, however. ’The longer it takes to make these moves may weaken the pool from which to attract candidates. If we have the right people for any of the three positions and it is convenient, appropriate and timely, the board has entrusted me with the option of making recommendations along the way for the principal or coach positions. In this manner, we hope to be able to maintain the progress we have enjoyed without missing a beat – especially with our programs on the field and in the classroom,’ Truby said. Byars agreed that Truby will be relied on heavily. ’We told Dr. Truby he is our man for hiring until he leaves. We are looking to him for guidance and leadership. Our confidence is in him,’ she said. The board will begin interviewing superintendent candidates this weekend and hopes to have a selection by the end of April but the talent pool is deep. ’Oh, my goodness, we have tremendous applicants. Some are superintendents. Some are assistant superintendents. They come from big counties and small counties. Hopefully, it will all sort itself out but there are just so many good ones I don’t know how fast that will happen,’ Byars said. Ideally, Lamar would like to have a head football coach in place in time to run spring practice which generally begins the second week of May and culminates with a spring game near the end of the school calendar year. However, a new GHSA rule allows coaches to not have spring practice and hold a second scrimmage game in the fall. That is an option for whomever Lamar hires for the coaching job which is considered a plum position due to recent success and excellent facilities. The names of several coaches interested in the job are circulating on high school message boards and around water coolers here and there. They include Griffin High School head coach Steve Devoursney and Northside Warner Robins offensive coordinator Chad Alligood. Sonny Spurlock, who served as Stephens’ offensive coordinator for the past two seasons, is also considered a strong candidate for the job.

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