VARNELL, Ga. - Coahulla Creek High School's long and winding search for a football coach came to an end Monday when former Sequatchie County coach Chad Barger accepted the school's offer to succeed Jared Hamlin.
Barger, a Bledsoe County native, was 29-26 in five seasons at Sequatchie County before spending last season as the head coach at Clay County in Celina, Tenn., where his team went 3-7. His hiring comes a month after former South Pittsburg coach Vic Grider informed Coahulla Creek officials that because of a misunderstanding regarding coaching supplements he was not taking the Colts job.
Coachulla Creek principal Dr. Stanley Stewart said Barger's history of turning around programs was a key in his hiring.
"He's done a great job of turning things around wherever he's gone," Stewart said. "Before he went to Sequatchie County they were 1-19 the previous two seasons, and he turned them around immediately. Another factor is that people we've talked to say he's a great person and that kids just gravitate to him. Plus, he does a great job in the classroom as a history teacher, which is extremely important."
Barger said his secret to turnaround success is really no secret at all.
"There is no substitute for a great work ethic, so I hope the kids are ready to get to work," said Barger, who said getting back to the Chattanooga area was a factor in his decision to leave Clay after one season. "There is no set formula. The first thing we need is to get the kids and the community excited about football and hit the ground running. What I do know is the school and its facilities are second to none, so that's a great place to start."
Barger and Stewart have talked briefly about a staff, but nothing can be decided until the school's teacher allotment is determined, though that number is expected to grow.
"We believe we'll be able to add some spots because we are adding students," Stewart said. "We look forward to putting together a great staff."
Stewart also acknowledged he's glad the process is at least partially complete.
"It's been a pretty tough journey, but I realize this is the most high-profile hire I'll have," he said. "It's very important for our kids to be bringing in such a high-quality person."
Contact Lindsey Young at email@example.com or at 423-757-6296.