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Hot Board: Who could be new SHS football coach?

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As most already know, Sylacauga is back in the market for a head football coach after Andrew Zow took a step up in the coaching world by taking a position at Clemson University with former Alabama football players Todd Bates (defensive line coach) and Dabo Swinney.

The Zow hire, while short lived, was successful. It brought a new-found notoriety, drawing media attention throughout the state, and raised the interest level around SHS football in the community.

Now, Sylacauga is back in the same position it was this time last year, trying to find a football coach that will not only keep the Aggies perennially in the playoffs, but take the next step. The job has been “open” for almost two weeks although the SCS board just accepted Zow’s resignation earlier this week.

This job is one of the most popular jobs in the state, and why shouldn’t it be? Athletes galore. A community that is football hungry and dying to win a championship. When Zow was hired, around 100 applications were submitted for the job, and one can only assume, after a household name like Andrew Zow, it is now even more popular.

Some *notable names are already floating around the community, but who are real targets for the most notable job in small town Sylacauga? Here’s a list of coaches who are interested, applied last time or could get a look based on their coaching background as the search continues in no particular order.

B.B. Comer Head Coach Adam Fossett

  • Sylacauga’s search wouldn’t have to go very far to find Fossett. Just cross the tracks. Fossett has a proven track record of winning, and has a great rapport with the community. Fossett has taken a program that was really down and turned it into a legitimate playoff contender. Outside of a tough stint at Smith Station after being the head coach of the Childersburg Tigers, Fossett has been a model of consistency. When he took over Comer, the team had 15 players. Now, the Tigers have a full team with a system that allows its athletes to make big plays. We do not know if Fossett has any interest in the job, but he may be worth a look.

Thompson Linebackers Coach Jake Ganus

  • Jake Ganus is probably a top contender for the opening this time around. Ganus, a former captain for the University of Georgia, was the runner-up for the opening last year. Since then he has simply added a perfect 15-0 season, another state title and the #2 ranking nationally at Thompson High School to his resume. Ganus works for one of the most respected coaches in high school football in the country, Mark Freeman. It’s not a given that the success of powerhouse Thompson would transfer to Sylacauga, but you have to love the guy’s pedigree. A former SEC linebacker, two-time state champion as a coach and a permanent captain at Georgia. Ganus was neck and neck with Zow down the stretch last year. Many people even thought he was going to be the man hired at the press conference. Sources tell us that he was the school’s second choice behind Zow. If Sylacauga has a chance to hire Ganus again will they pass on him twice?

Pinson Valley Head Coach Sam Shade

  • Sam Shade. You know the name. Former Alabama football player, 8-year NFL veteran, and current Pinson Valley Head Coach. Sources tell us Shade has been contacted by Sylacauga about the job, but would he take it? Shade is fresh off of a state title at PV while coaching one of the best defensive back in high school football, Alabama signee GaQuincy “Koolaid” McKinstry. Shade feels like a dark horse candidate, but he has winner written all over him. Once again a coach with a championship pedigree that would bring attention to the program. Would Shade leave a 6A powerhouse for SHS? Who knows? But we do know that SHS is a very attractive job. It would be worth the chase.

Sylacauga Defensive Coordinator Anthony Jacks

  • Jacks could, and should, get some consideration for the job. He has been on the SHS staff for the last two years serving as the QB coach in 2019 and the DC in 2020. Jacks has been a head coach most notably at B.B. Comer, but also at Pisgah. Jacks is a hard-working, players coach and is very well respected in the community, he lives here and has his kids currently in Sylacauga schools. He was one of the youngest head coaches in Alabama when he got his first head job.  Once all the applications are in, Jacks could be one the athletics department considers.

Murphy Head Coach Rico Jackson

  • We have heard Jackson has interest in the job, and was also interested in the job last year. Jackson has multiple assistants from the area, including Alexander City. One of Jackson’s assistants reached out to someone close to the Sylacauga situation gauging interest for the job for Jackson. Murphy is a 7A school, and its understandable why he would want to leave. If you’re not Thompson, Hoover, Central Phenix City or Auburn High, you probably aren’t winning the state title at the 7A level anytime soon. Jackson has had four different head coaching jobs since 2012, and has complied a 54-43 record in nine seasons. Jackson landed at Murphy two years ago. He has posted a 6-5 record in 2019 and a 5-5 record in 2020. All records aren’t created equal either, so a coaches record shouldn’t be the end all be all. Jackson did lead 2A Aliceville to a state title game in 2016 and finish with a 13-2 record.

Lincoln Head Coach Matt Zedaker

  • Coach “Z” is a defensive guru from the community. He knows this place in and out. Zedaker served as the defensive coordinator for SHS for the majority of his coaching career before being hired as the head coach at Lincoln where he has transformed the culture of the Golden Bear program. Lincoln is a tough, physical team that plays with a chip on its shoulder. In four seasons Zedaker has two region championships, 2018-2019, after taking over a 4-8 team in 2017. Just like Fossett, there’s no way to know of Zedaker is interested in the job, but it would be a familiar name.

A wrench thrown into the hiring plans will be the departure of Superintendent Dr. Jon Segars. Segars announced his retirement effective in June just yesterday. Normally, the superintendent is very hands on in these matters, but with Segars bidding farewell, how much of an influence will he have on the hire? Although Segars is leaving, SCS has two very capable athletics directors that will have to make the recommendation to the board of education. Ultimately, it’s up to the five board members to hire the coach. We will keep you updated.


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