Both schools announced the hiring of new football coaches Friday, with Ryan Brady taking the helm for the Spartans and Matt Casper overseeing the reins of the Wolverines.
Both coaches are expected to begin their duties July 1 — the start of the new academic calendar — though they will be on their new campuses to oversee spring practice and prepare the 2014 season.
Brady, a defensive line coach and co-defensive coordinator at Hillgrove the past three years, recently completed his 14th season as an assistant coach. He’s spent the past 11 years as a defensive coordinator at Hillgrove, Cass and Royal Palm Beach (Fla.), and he was an assistant coach at his alma mater, Harborfields (N.Y.), after graduating from West Virginia in 2000 with a degree in journalism.
Brady also played four years at West Virginia, starting all 11 games of his senior season as a linebacker.
“I’m very excited and humbled to be selected for this position,” Brady said. “I want to thank the principal, Dr. (Denise) Magee, and athletic director, Dr. (Rudy) Deveaux, for selecting me and giving me this opportunity.”
Brady plans to run a variation spread offense, use multiple defensive sets and coverages and put the athletes in the best possible position to succeed.
“It’s always been a goal of mine to be a head coach,” he said. “I’ve been interviewed several times and when you don’t get it, you wonder if it will ever happen. The folks at Hillgrove would tell me to wait my turn and the right situation will come. I stayed the course and this opportunity presented itself, so I’m very grateful.”
Deveaux said Campbell received 31 applications and the selection committee narrowed the list to six finalists. Two were eventually considered before Brady was offered the position.
“The competition was stiff,” Deveaux said. “We wanted someone to come in and be effective with the kids, have them play at a high level and develop a good relationship with them.
“We’re very excited to have coach Brady join us. We have a core group of kids returning and we’re going into a new region. This is uncharted territory for us. Our goal is to be a successful team and get to the playoffs.”
This fall will see Campbell playing in a new Region 3AAAAAA that includes schools from Douglas, Coweta and south Fulton counties along with former Region 4AAAAAA rivals Pebblebrook and South Cobb.
The Spartans went 4-6 for former coach Harris Rainbow last year, with a 2-6 record in the challenging region.
“It’s a new region and I’m excited about that,” Brady said. “It’s intriguing with great possibilities for Campbell to do well.
“We left a tough region, and we’re going to make a name for ourselves in this new one. The administration is behind us, and there’s solid support from the staff, so I’m looking forward to everything.”
Brady becomes the third former assistant of Hillgrove’s Phillip Ironside among current coaches in Cobb County. McEachern coach Kyle Hockman assisted Ironside at Campbell, and recently hired South Cobb coach Geoff Pastrick served under Ironside at Hillgrove.
“You always want to hire good guys that you think will be head coaches because you know they’ll make good assistants,” Ironside said. “It’s something (Brady) wanted to do. He put in good hard work for us, so it’s good to see him get this opportunity. Campbell’s a good place and a good community, and I think it’s a win for both of them.”
Casper has more than 10 years of coaching experience at the collegiate and high school levels, most recently at Lovett.
Casper could not be reached for comment, but he said in a release on the Walker School’s website that he “realized this position is not only a great professional opportunity, but also a critical responsibility for the development of the young men within the program.
“I feel that not only is the Walker community a great place to work, but I also recognize the strong desire to see this football team succeed from everyone I have crossed paths with on this campus.”
Walker athletic director Gary Blohm was also excited about Casper’s selection.
“I look forward to working with Matt,” he said in the release. “He has helped to coach the offense on the varsity football team at Lovett for the past seven years, and they went on to become the (Class) AA Georgia state champions in 2013. He has a proven track record and determined spirit that will be a huge asset to us.”
Casper replaces John East, who resigned after two seasons to accept a position as the athletic director at another school.