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Thursday January 20th, 2022 9:50AM

Football: Lumpkin County hires Heath Webb as next head coach

By Bo Wilson Sports Editor
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DAHLONEGA, Ga. — It didn't take Heath Webb long to find a new head coaching job. 

The former Gainesville coach was approved as the next Lumpkin County head football coach Monday night at the monthly Board of Education meeting.

Webb is no stranger in Dahlonega as he coached with Tommy Jones, now at Cherokee Bluff, in the late 2000s, before leaving to start up North Paulding's football program in 2008. 

"It's a place we've always considered a part of our community, even though we haven't lived there," Webb said. "There's a lot of personal connections there. It's a very good school system, and it just seemed like the right thing for us as a family. This move was about us, not just me. It just all worked out." 

Principal Billy Kirk is glad it all worked out and is very pleased with the outcome of the month-long coaching search to replace Caleb Sorrells, who stepped down last month.

"We're super excited to have coach Webb," he said. "You know the good thing about Lumpkin County is I think what we have from a Board of Education, superintendent, the facilities, the students and the community, I think he fits Lumpkin County the best. When you look at what he did at North Paulding, Winder-Barrow and Gainesville, he has been successful. He knows what he's walking into at Lumpkin County because he's been here before under coach Jones and left here to become a head football coach. When we interviewed him, it showed very quickly that the fit for Lumpkin County was Heath Webb."

Part of the reason Webb was so attractive to Lumpkin County was his resume as a program builder. He started the North Paulding program and had the Wolfpack winning five games or better by the time he left in 2011. At Winder-Barrow, Webb took the Bulldoggs from winning six games in six years to a four-year playoff run and a 26-19 record. And at Gainesville, he had the Red Elephants in the playoffs three of the four seasons.

Webb steps into a similar situation in Dahlonega as when he took over at Winder-Barrow. The Indians are 22-77 and haven't had a season over .500 since 2012. They have made the playoffs just once in the last decade -- 2014 under Ty Maxwell -- and over the last three seasons, have only won three games.

"If you look at our situation, you know, we're 3-27 over the last three years," Kirk said. "I'm gonna tell you right now, and I think from our superintendent to myself to our athletic director Steve Horton, I believe we have every single piece you need to be successful at Lumpkin County. If you look at our girls basketball program, it was one of the worst in the state when David Dowse took it over. Now, five years later, they are one of the best in the state. I know Heath is taking over a tough situation here, but at the end of the day, with what he brings to the table, I genuinely think he's the right guy for the job."

Webb is well aware of Lumpkin County's not-so-glamorous past and is ready to begin the revival.  

"I think the thing that made me the right guy, outside of the community piece, was my experience at Winder-Barrow," he said. "We turned that program around. So, what did we do well? It was competing from Day 1. We start by making competitions in practice and in the weight room where there is a winner and a loser. We want to create a competitive environment, so we can grow a competitive nature and get those kids competing every day. You know, winning those battles in the weight room every day, our confidence starts to grow, and they start feeling better about themselves. I think that's kind of the recipe, but there's really no magic pill, it's just hard work.

Of course, there are several pieces of the puzzle, but the most important, according to Webb, is a belief in the system. 

"They have to believe we can win games and can compete," he said. "The talent is there. So, it's just a matter of getting them to believe in it. It's just a matter of putting good coaches and good systems in front of them and going out there and doing the job. We can go win games."

"I think there's a good group of young players. I just really think with the young guys there and the staff that I plan on bringing in, I feel like we can do some good things there to make them competitive, win games and get the community excited about football."

 

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