NORTH FULTON, Ga. — The coaching carousel has been commonplace in North Fulton in recent years, and the 2019 season will be no different with two new head coaches joining the fray. Shane Sams will lead Centennial in 2019, and Chattahoochee will be under the direction of Mike Malone. This is the first head coach position for both men.
Sams replaces Michael Perry, who stepped down last year after leading Centennial for two seasons. Sams’ background includes tenures as an offensive coordinator at three Georgia schools. He most recently served as the offensive coordinator at Warner Robins High School. The Demons captured two region championships and made two appearances in the Class 5A state finals under Sams.
Prior to Warner Robins, he was the offensive coordinator at Chapel Hill and New Manchester.
The Cougars will be under Malone’s direction after Vince Strine stepped down following the 2018 season to become the athletic director at North Springs High School. Malone joined Hooch last season and served as special teams coordinator, running backs coach and assistant coach.
Malone previously coached at Gainesville and Central Gwinnett. 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.
While Malone and Sams enter their inaugural season with their new programs, the remaining teams in North Fulton and Forsyth County will be under familiar direction, none more so than South Forsyth and King’s Ridge.
South head coach Jeff Arnette will lead the War Eagles for his 10th season this year, making him one of the longest-tenured coaches in Class 7A.
Jeff Pickren served as the first head coach for King’s Ridge when the program began in 2008. He stepped down in 2015 but took over the program again last season.
Blessed Trinity’s Tim McFarlin has extensive head coaching experience in North Fulton, and the former Roswell coach will enter his ninth season leading the Titans this year.
Craig Bennett will stay at the helm of Cambridge in 2019. Bennett has been the only head coach in the program’s seven-year history.
Two North Fulton private school programs’ coaches, Fellowship Christian’s Al Morell and Mike Forrester of Mount Pisgah, enter their seventh season as head coach in 2019.
Alpharetta’s Jacob Nichols and Lambert’s Louis Daniel have led their programs for five seasons.
North Fulton/Forsyth County head coach tenures
Coach School No. of seasons
Jeff Pickren King’s Ridge 10 (2008-15, 2018-current)
Jeff Arnette South Forsyth 10
Tim McFarlin Blessed Trinity 9
Craig Bennett Cambridge 8
Al Morrell Fellowship Christian 7
Mike Forrester Mount Pisgah 7
Jacob Nichols Alpharetta 6
Louis Daniel Lambert 6
Frank Hepler Forsyth Central 4
Robert Craft North Forsyth 4
Terence Mathis Pinecrest Academy 3
Matt Helmerich Johns Creek 3
James Thompson Northview 3
Adam Clack Milton 3
Matt Kemper Roswell 3
Shawn Cahill West Forsyth 3
Terry Crowder Denmark 2
Frank Barden St. Francis 2
Mike Malone Chattahoochee First year
Shane Sams Centennial First year