KINGSLAND — Bob Sphire, one of the winningest football coaches in Georgia, is leaving North Gwinnett High School to lead Camden County’s football program.
Sphire replaces head football coach Welton Coffey, who was promoted to athletic director to replace Gary Blount, who is retiring at the end of the school year.
“Coach Sphire is recognized as one of the best football minds and most effective coaches in the state,” Blount said. “We feel he has the expertise, attitude and tenacity needed as we compete in one of the most competitive divisions and regions in Georgia.”
It took less than a month for a committee comprised of athletic program staff and others with ties to the team to chose from about 30 “legitimate” applications for the job, Blount said. Others with no head coaching experience also applied but were not considered for the position, he said.
“We put in some pretty stringent requirements,” he said.
Herb Rowland, chair of the Camden County School Board, said there was no debate after the committee made its recommendation to hire Sphire at Tuesday’s meeting.
The vote by board members to accept the recommendation was unanimous, he said.
Rowland said the job attracted lots of interest, unlike in 2013 when only four coaches applied to replace Jeff Herron after he resigned as Camden’s coach to accept another job. Rowland said some potential applicants four years ago were likely reluctant to apply because the expectations would be high. Herron’s teams had a 158-18 record and three state championships during his 13 years as Camden’s head coach.
Sphire could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
He has 282 wins as a head coach, averaging 10 wins a season during his 11 years at North Gwinnett.
Blount said he was initially surprised Sphire was interested in the Camden job. He said Sprire found the job appealing because the school, considered among the best football programs in the state the past two decades, is in an area with with a stable population.
Sphire has lost talented players when new schools are built in the high-growth Atlanta area and the attendance lines are redrawn.
“He is in a situation in Gwinnett County where they are building schools,” Blount said. “He just wanted to be in a system where if he works with a kid in the seventh grade, he will be able to work with that kid in 11th and 12th grade.”
Blount said the new coach plans to scrap the Wing-T offense, a mainstay in Camden football the past two decades, in favor of a fast-paced aerial spread attack.
“It keeps everyone involved on offense,” he said. “If you’re not paying attention you could get hit in the helmet with a football. There’s no doubt he gets more people involved.”
Blount said he expects it could take a year for the coaches and players to learn the new system.
After Sphire arrives next month to take over football operations, he will work closely with Coffey through the end of the school year to make the transition as smooth as possible.
“We just want by June 30 to be a well-oiled machine,” Blount said.