published Friday, April 8th, 2011

Hamlin eager to direct Colts

Coahulla Creek High School principal Phillip Brown and athletic director Chip Fleming will host a meet-and-greet with the Whitfield County school’s first lineup of coaches next week. As of now, that would be a party of two.

Successful Florida prep coach Jared Hamlin will be in charge of the Colts’ football program, which will begin with a junior varsity season this fall before playing a varsity schedule in 2012. Hamlin was chosen from a list of 40 to 50 “strong” applicants, according to Fleming, who will be the school’s track coach in addition to his AD duties.

“We are currently trying to build a staff, but it’s taking some time since most of the hirings will be within Whitfield County,” Fleming said. “The school board is still trying to finalize the districts so that we will know how many students will be coming and how many teaching spots we will have.”

Coahulla Creek will compete on the varsity level in every other sport, making the coaching hirings even more of a priority. Though the hirings have been slow to come, Fleming raves about Hamlin, a Virginia Tech University offensive lineman in the early 1990s who compiled a 41-30 record at Sebring High School. Sebring had managed just 16 wins in the six years before Hamlin’s arrival.

“He’s an excellent coach and he’s dedicated to building this program from scratch,” Fleming said.

Hamlin will put 60 to 70 players through spring practice beginning May 9, and the Colts will make their first public appearance in a scrimmage at Finley Stadium in August. Though there are many more unknowns than knowns, Hamlin says that’s not all bad.

“Right now, there are no preconceived notions,” Hamlin said. “I’m going to learn right along with these kids. And I don’t want to hear about what a certain kid might can do or can’t do. I want to see it for myself.”

The Colts likely will be placed in Region 7-AA along with Calhoun, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, Dade County, Chattooga, Gordon Central and Sonoraville, though the next reclassification period might push them into Class AAA.

Hamlin isn’t worried about such things. Like his players and assistant coaches, he will have to learn about his opponents as he goes.

As for the challenge of building from scratch, Hamlin said that’s also something new to him, and it’s one of the reasons he left talent-rich Florida.

“It’s going to be fun and challenging at the same time,” Hamlin said. “Not many coaches get to put their footprint on a program from the start. It will be new for me. Sebring was down when I took over, and in seven years we were able to turn it around. To me, that might even be harder because there were so many bad habits when I got there. Here, these kids will only know one way.”

Hamlin said he will spend his first spring just getting to know his players and coaches.

“I don’t even have film on them, so there will be a lot of evaluation,” he said. “I’m not concerned with throwing a playbook at them just yet. I can’t wait to get started.”

about Lindsey Young...

Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...

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