The 57-year-old coach, who led the Eagles to a 22-11 record over the last three seasons — including the first state playoff win in program history — made the decision earlier this week to step aside and try to provide a better quality of life for him and his family.
Koester said the seven years of making a nearly 90-minute commute from his northern Cherokee County home to Austell had taken its toll, and that the extra time could have been spent better with his wife of 38 years, Diane.
“I felt like it’s time to get closer to my family,” Koester said. “I just can’t justify (the daily commute) any longer.”
Koester first arrived at South Cobb prior to the 2006 season as a member of Derek Cook’s coaching staff. When Cook left for Kell following the 2007 season, Koester was hired to take his place.
Koester, who has an overall record of 141-106 in a long career that also includes stops at Cherokee and Lakeside-Evans, as well as schools in Oklahoma and Texas, leaves the South Cobb sideline with a 26-27 record at the school.
While Koester’s record at the Eagles’ helm may have been one game under .500, the last three years saw him lead one of the best stretches in program history. South Cobb made the state playoffs twice, earned the first postseason win of the school’s 60-year history in 2011 and claimed the 300th win in team history this past fall.
“We are real proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Koester said.
Though South Cobb missed the playoffs in 2012, it may have been one of the most exciting seasons the team has seen. Five of the Eagles’ seven wins were clinched in the final minute of the game, or in overtime. That included their signature win, 27-26 in overtime over a North Cobb team that eventually advanced to the Class AAAAAA state semifinals.
South Cobb athletic director Chuck Stines gave Koester credit for leaving the program in solid shape.
“We’ve had more kids out for football this year than any time in the seven years that I’ve been here,” he said. “(Koester) has built it and gotten the numbers out. I can’t say enough about the job he has done.”
While Koester may be done coaching at South Cobb, he said it didn’t mean he would be hanging up his whistle. If another opportunity presents itself, he would consider being a head coach again — it would just have to be closer to home.
As for the Eagles’ program, Stines said the school is in the preliminary stages of finding a new coach. Resumes are beginning to filter in, but he said there is no timeline for making a hire.