By Walter Geigernews@barnesville.comThe search is on for a new head football coach at Lamar County High School following the abrupt departure last week of Jason Strickland.Strickland, who led the Trojans to the best season in school history last year at 12-1 and had a wealth of talent returning, was hired as the head coach of Fitzgerald High School Feb. 16. Strickland was 27-18 overall at LCCHS and 26-8 over the past three seasons. This was his first head coaching job.At Fitzgerald, he replaces Robby Pruitt who was 120-21-1 at the football powerhouse in Ben Hill County. Pruitt is moving on to Coffee County.Strickland is expected to move to Fitzgerald in time to run spring practice. Lamar also hopes to have a new coach in place by that time. LCCHS principal Derick Austin will run the search, according to school superintendent Dr. Bill Truby.’I am confident Derick’s knowledge of football, his many contacts throughout the state and his own positive experience here will be a strong magnet to attract a super coach. Our schools and athletic programs are a lot different than when we searched a few years ago,’ Truby said Monday.Truby added he was in contact with the Fitzgerald system and he expects a smooth transition.LCCHS athletics director Calvin Scandrett, who preceded Strickland as head coach, said the former football mentor will be missed.’Jason, his staff and our players have generated tremendous excitement for our athletic department. Their success changed our expectations for athletics. I will miss his leadership, support and friendship and wish he and Michelle well at Fitzgerald,’ Scandrett said.Strickland said his decision to leave was a tough one.’The last four years have been the most fun in my career. This has truly been a blessing. I can assure you this decision was not about not wanting to be here. We love it here. This was about getting an opportunity I have prayed for my whole career. I will always pull for the Trojans. This whole community has been great to us,’ the coach said.Truby said Strickland’s departure is bittersweet.’His teams’ accomplishments will long be the standard by which we judge our program. You miss people as they go but you are glad you have helped them move onward. It is a compliment to our school system that our folks are coveted by other programs,’ he concluded.