Wednesday March 20th, 2019 1:34PM

East Hall taps former Gainesville OC as head football coach

By Bo Wilson Sports Editor
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RABBITTOWN — East Hall has a new head football coach.

Vikings Principal Jeff Cooper announced Monday former Gainesville offensive coordinator and Centennial head coach Michael Perry will take the helm of the Viking football program.

The Hall County Board of Education approved Cooper’s recommendation at its monthly board meeting Monday evening. Perry officially starts on Jan. 2. Cooper said he'll be introduced Dec. 18 at the East Hall vs. Fannin basketball game.

Perry becomes the third head coach for the Vikings in as many seasons.

"We are really looking forward to it," Cooper said. "He's not an East Hall guy, but he's a Gainesville-community guy. He knows our county and brings a lot to our program."

Perry will take over for Scott Patrick, who resigned earlier this month after one season in charge. East Hall finished the 2018 campaign 3-7 overall while giving up 51.8 ppg and scoring an average of 20.4 ppg.

"He's done a good job for us in the position that he was put in," Cooper said about Patrick. " I appreciate the guy for what he did for us. I have a lot of respect for him."

Cooper said Patrick will have a spot on the new coaching staff if he wants it. 

Patrick took over for Bryan Gray, who stepped away in April. After Gray's resignation, the Vikings had to replace several key positions before summer and fall practices began. Cooper told AccessWDUN in May that he was looking to fill both offensive and defensive coordinator spots. The lack of coaches put the already skeleton staff in an a tough position going into fall practice.

"Our coaching staff was put in a tough spot this season," Cooper said. "We were short-handed with our coaching staff all season and had little time to get everything together in the summer. It was just tough with a new coaching staff and a whole new group of kids. I was proud of the way our staff pulled through and kids didn't quit."

With the early hire of Perry, he'll have plenty of time to evaluate and hire coaches and be ready for spring football practice.

Perry is no stranger to success. As an offensive coordinator, he helped lead the Coffee County Trojans to the Class 6A quarterfinals in 2016. Prior to Coffee, he led the Gainesville offense that featured current Houston Texans' QB Deshaun Watson. The Red Elephants won the 2012 Class 5A state title with Perry as offensive coordinator.

He took charge of the Centennial Knights in 2017, compiling a 15-8 record and back-to-back Class 6A playoff berths in two seasons. This season, Centennial finished 7-4, losing to Allatoona 38-7 in the first round. In his first season, he guided the Knights to an 8-4 record and the team's first state playoff win since 2002. Perry's winning percentage (65.22 percent) was among the best of the previous five head coaches at the school.

"He's had success in all the places he's coached," Cooper said. "We tried to get him last year, but could never get it worked out. So, we went back after him this year. I just like what he stands for - his message and the character he brings. There's a lot of work to be done here,  I'm looking forward to his approach."

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