Inside Sports: Local prep football changes, coach speak and contracts

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By JOEY HOWARD, The Weekly

The 2022 high school football season is about to get underway, officially, with the regular season beginning the weekend of August 19-20.

And for Coweta County prep football fans, things will look a little different in 2022. That’s mainly because the GHSA (Georgia High School Association) and its reclassification process shuffled things quite a bit. 

Starting with defending state champion Trinity Christian, which finished last year a perfect 14-0 to win its first GHSA state championship, the Lions will be experiencing the biggest change in GHSA reclassification among Coweta County Schools. After winning the GHSA Class A Private title a year ago, Trinity moves up and out of the Private School division and will now compete in Region 4, 4-A. The Lions region opponents are Fayette County, LaGrange, North Clayton, Riverdale, Starr’s Mill, Troup and Whitewater.

Newnan reached the state playoffs first round last season with a 3-7 ledger and dropped in the reclassification process from 7-A to 6-A and now competes in Region 5. The Cougars region opponents in 2022 will be Alexander, Douglas County, East Paulding, Langston Hughes, New Manchester, Paulding County and South Paulding.

Northgate, 2-8 last season, stayed in 5-A following reclassification, but moves from Region 2 to Region 3 in 2022-23. The Vikings region opponents will be Drew, Harris County, McIntosh and Northside-Columbus.

Heritage School, 0-10 last year, left the Georgia High School Association during reclassification with several other private schools and moves to their new-branded home – GIAA (Georgia Independent Athletic Association) which formerly was the GISA. The Hawks will be competing in District 5, 3A with district opponents Brookstone, St. Anne-Pacelli, Strong Rock and Westfield.

Central Christian School, 3-7 a season ago, plays in the Georgia Association of Private and Parochial Schools (GAPPS) and moves from 11-man football to 8-man football. The Crusaders will be in Region 2, 2-A with its region opponents being New Creations, Sherwood Christian, Young Americans and Vidalia Heritage.

And finally, the one school without any classification or region change locally is East Coweta. The Indians were 7-4 last season reaching the first round of the state playoffs. East Coweta remains in Region 2, 7-A with region opponents Campbell, Carrollton, Pebblebrook and Westlake.

NBA Hawks add Korver to staff

The Atlanta Hawks brought back one of their own last month, adding former NBA 3-point specialist Kyle Korver to their coaching staff.

Korver played for the Hawks from 2012-2017 and averaged 10.9 points per game. He will serve as the Director of Player Affairs and Development in Atlanta. Last year, he was on the Brooklyn Nets staff as a player development assistant.

Korver played 17 seasons in the NBA including 1,232 games. He finished fifth in NBA history in three-pointers made with 2,450.

Coach Speak

Most sports fans probably are familiar with the term “Coach Speak.” It’s the tried-and-true lines coaches of all sports use to describe their team, their opponents and so on.  

At last month’s Southeastern Conference Football Media Days, Saturday Down South defined coach speak a little differently during the four-day event. SDS actually counted the words of all 14 SEC coaches in their press conference opening statement. 

Want to guess which coach spoke the most words? It was Clark Lea of Vanderbilt with an impressive 2,340-word opening statement.

And the least? Quite a surprise with the always talkative Mike Leach of Mississippi State using a grand total of 7 words. Leach basically just said I’m ready to take your questions.

Shane Beamer of South Carolina came in second with 2,185. UGA’s Kirby Smart was third with a distant 1,438 words in his opening remarks.

Others were Sam Pittman of Arkansas (1,379), Nick Saban of Alabama (1,339), Mark Stoops of Kentucky (1,296), Eli Drinkwitz of Missouri (1,196), Josh Heupel of Tennessee (1,147), Billy Napier of Florida (1,131), Bryan Harsin of Auburn (886), Brian Kelly of LSU (343) and Lane Kiffin of Ole Miss (219).

Smart signs 10-year deal

UGA head football coach was rewarded after leading the Bulldogs last season to a national championship, the first since 1980. 

Smart signed a 10-year deal  for $112.5 million, which makes him the highest paid college football coach in the country. 

The new contract bumps up his salary from $7.1 million to $10.25 million. And incremental increases through the term of the contract will raise his salary to $12.25 million in 2031. 

Riley also signs huge contract

The Atlanta Braves rewarded All-Star third baseman Austin Riley  on Aug. 1 with a 10-year, $212 million contract extension.

Riley’s contract is the largest in franchise history. The Mississippi native will earn $15 million in 2023, then $21 million in 2024 and $22 million for the rest of the deal. At the end of the contract, he’ll also have a club option in 2033 in the amount of $20 million.

As of Aug. 7, Riley leads in the Braves in batting average (.296), home runs (29), on base percentage (.359), slugging percentage (.587), hits (124) and  is second in RBIs with 69.

Ogletree at Greenville

Former Newnan High and UGA football player Zander Ogletree will be the head football coach at Greenville High School as the 2022 season approaches.

Zander and his twin brother, Alec, played for Newnan High through the 2009 season and both later signed and played at Georgia. 

His Greenville Patriot squad opens the season on Aug. 19 against Spencer.

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