JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — Chattahoochee football will have a new leader at the helm for the upcoming 2019 season after running backs coach Mike Malone was promoted to head coach. Malone replaces Vince Strine, who resigned after five seasons to take over as athletic director at North Springs High School.
“I’m very thankful for (principal) Dr. Mike Todd and Athletic Director JJ Hicks for giving me the opportunity,” Malone said. “It is very exciting and a great opportunity for me to give back to the community and these young men and to establish a new era and a new culture,” Malone said. “Coach Strine did a lot of great things, we want to build off that.”
Malone previously coached at Gainesville and Central Gwinnett before joining the Cougars as running backs coach, special teams coordinator and assistant coach in 2018.
Malone said he has been primed for his new position by fantastic coaches. He served under legendary Gainesville coach Bruce Miller and Central Gwinnett’s Todd Wofford, and has been mentored by Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins.
Coming from the Hooch program to his new position will also be a boon.
“I think the transition has been a lot better for the kids,” Malone said. “I’m big on relationships, and we want the kids to know we love them off the football field, and we want them to be better people because they went through our program.”
A motto of “chasing greatness” has been instilled in the program in the offseason, and Malone said it is vital for his players and the Hooch community to set a strong foundation for the new direction of the program.
“You have to have a solid foundation, and that is one of the principle things we want the guys to understand,” Malone said. “We want to emphasize doing the small things, whether it’s like keeping your locker clean, because those things transfer to the field. It’s also about accountability from the players. For us to be great, they have to do their part, support what we’re trying to do and establish this new era.”
That message will be instilled by Malone and four new coaches on the Hooch staff to serve as running backs, defensive line, defensive backs coaches and as co-defensive coordinator.
Malone said he will bring high energy to the sideline, and he wants to bring the excitement back to Chattahoochee football. The program is looking to rebound from it’s frustrating 2018 campaign in which the Cougars went 0-10 for the first time in program history dating back to 1991.
However, Malone says his new role goes beyond the win/loss column.
“Our jobs as coaches is geared toward winning games, but you also learn if you do right by these kids every single day, that’s winning, and that will carry over to the football field,” he said.