Matt Land ends long, successful run as Dalton coach

Matt Land encourages his Catamounts. The Northwest Whitfield Bruins hosted the Dalton Catamounts in a North Georgia rivalry game on August 31, 2018.

Dalton High School will be performing a rare search for a football coach after Matt Land resigned Tuesday after an 11-year run at the Catamounts' helm.

Land, a former player and longtime assistant coach, went 80-43 as the head coach. His teams made eight playoff appearances and won three region championships. The 2016 team went 13-1 and reached the Class AAAAAA semifinal round.

This year's team finished 2-7, 1-6 in Region 5-AAAAAA.

Land was a player under legendary coach Bill Chappell and later joined his staff after playing and graduating from Auburn. He was the program's fifth head coach since 1963, the year Chappell began his 32-year run. Alf Anderson preceded Chappell and had a 16-year tenure.

Land posted a letter on social media Tuesday morning, thanking his family and current and former players.

photo Staff Photo by Robin Rudd Matt Land is Dalton's head coach. The Northwest Whitfield Bruins hosted the Dalton Catamounts in a North Georgia rivalry game on August 31, 2018.

The letter read, in part:

"Today I resigned as football coach at Dalton High School. For 32 years I have walked the sidelines at Harmon Field: four as a player, 17 as an assistant coach and 11 as head coach. That's 369 games. What a blessing!

I am so blessed to have coached, been coached and coached with some of the finest men to ever walk the streets of Dalton, Georgia - men who have become pillars of our community. For that reason alone my cup overflows. But the real blessing has been sharing 32 years of ministry with the best family in the world.

To the over 1,500 players I have been blessed to coach, and especially the last 407 that I will forever be their Head Coach: I Love You and I'm Proud of You! You have been the most special part of one of the best jobs in the country. You have been, and will forever be, in my prayers! Please remember, Once a Catamount, Always a Catamount!"

Among his coaching achievements was being named the 2019 Don Shula National High School Coach of the Year. Named after the NFL's all-time winningest coach, the award, according to the NFL, is based on "character, integrity, leadership, dedication to the community, commitment to player protection and on-field success."

In a statement released to the media Tuesday, Dalton Principal Stephanie Hungerpiller, said, "On behalf of Dalton High School, I would like to thank Coach Land for his years of dedication to our school and our community. He has worked hard to establish a long-standing tradition of excellence in our football program and helped mold many young men in our community. We will forever be grateful for his service to our student athletes and our school."

Added Dalton Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tim Scott, "We are very thankful for the great job Matt has done and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors."

According to the statement Land will remain with the school district as an educator.

Contact Lindsey Young at lyoung@timesfreepress.com; follow him on Twitter @youngsports22