Decatur High School athletic director Carter Wilson, who recently was looking for a new head football coach, found someone with a similar vision for the program.
Brad Waggoner replaces Price Jones, who stepped down at the end of last season. Jones was 18-22 in four seasons at the school.
“[Wilson] is what sold me on coming here,” Waggoner said. “There’s no better person to learn from than him. The vision that he has for the football program parallels the vision that I have. This is not going to be a quick fix overnight. We have to develop our youth programs for the future.”
Waggoner, a native of Fayetteville and former player at Georgia Tech, spent the past three seasons as head coach at Chattooga in northwest Georgia where he was 18-13. He led Chattooga to a 9-2 record in 2009, which was the team’s best record in 10 seasons. Waggoner also was a high school head coach for three seasons in Alabama and was a graduate assistant for two seasons at the University of Alabama.
“He’s done a lot of research on the program and has been successful in a lot of places,” Wilson said. “We felt like he will be a good fit for the program and the community.”
Both Wilson and Waggoner spoke of the importance to establish a feeder program for the high school. Waggoner said he will reinstitute the football program at Renfroe Middle School next year and both are hopeful that a youth football program will be started through Decatur Active Living in the fall.
Waggoner said he hopes the youth program would be available for children in third grade and above.
“It’s very difficult to have a successful high school program when the first time many players are strapping on shoulder pads is in middle school,” Wilson said. “We been in communication with the city for a while and we know that in order to be successful we’ve got to be in collaboration with Decatur Active Living.”
Waggoner said he is familiar with the history of the Decatur program. He attended Landmark Christian School in Fairburn and played against Decatur during high school.
Waggoner’s first coaching job in Georgia came as an assistant under Rodney Walker at state power Sandy Creek.
“The program has been very, very good in the past,” Waggoner said. “I see a program with a lot of potential. There are first-class facilities and they’ve got everything needed for a successful program. It’s a great school system and a place I knew I’d be able to raise my family in.”
Decatur’s last winning season was 2005 when the team went 8-2. The last time the Bulldogs made the playoffs was 2003 when Steve Davenport led the team to a 13-1 finish and a trip to the state semifinals in the Georgia Dome.
Decatur also enjoyed success in the early 1990s under Freddie Jones, and was one of the most dominant teams in the state during the 1940s and ‘50s. Decatur’s two state championships came back-to-back in 1949 and 1950.
“This is going to be a daily process and it’s going to take time,” Waggoner said. “The biggest thing is we’ve got to get the community involved and we can do it in different ways. We’ve got to make sure from the elementary school on up that everyone knows about the football program. And we’ve got to do it every day.”