DeKalb coaching carousel hits double digits

DeKalb County is loaded with talented and competitive high school football teams in 2021, but the sidelines will look different after this off-season’s coaching carousel replaced 11 high school head coaches in DeKalb County.

Several long-tenured head coaches left their posts, including Paul Standard at St. Pius X Catholic High School and Ron Gartrell at Stephenson High School. Standard was replaced by Chad Garrison, Standard’s former assistant and a Redan High School alumnus.

Gartrell was replaced by Marcus Jelks, a Stephenson alumnus and a former head coach at Lithonia High School. 

Cedar Grove High School lost Miguel Patrick—who helped the Saints to several state championships as an assistant and then head coach—to Crisp County High School, and Tucker High School parted ways with Bryan Lamar. Cedar Grove hired John Adams and Tucker hired James Thomson as replacements.

Marist High School Head Coach Alan Chadwick said DeKalb’s new crop of coaches are talented and experienced. Photos by Jay Phillips

Other coaching changes include Arabia Mountain High School replacing Stanley Pritchett with Julian Washington, Chamblee High School switching Scott Schwarzer for Bob Swank, Lithonia High School hiring Kevin Hill after Jelks’ departure, Druid Hills High School switching Mark Myers with Frederick Greene, McNair High School parting ways with Johnny Burdette and hiring Mario Drayton, Miller Grove High School flipping Lee Hannah with Melvin Brown, and Towers High School replacing Vonnell Carter with Michael Johnson.

Marist High School Head Coach Alan Chadwick—one of DeKalb County’s longest-tenured coaches—said the high number of new coaches could present challenges to returning coaches and that the new coaches could elevate the programs at their respective schools.

“It’ll be challenging to see what kind of programs they put together and if they can raise the programs up. I think there are some really good coaches with some really good experience coming in,” said Chadwick. “I know Jelks at Stephenson. We’ve played against him at Lithonia, and he played against us a number of times. He knows what we’re all about, and Stephenson can be a really good place for him.”

Chadwick said the same could be true for other programs, but he and DeKalb’s other returning coaches are waiting to get a look at the rest of the county’s new coaches.

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