JASPER, Tenn. — Ricky Ross will coach football in Marion County after all.
The former Calhoun (Ga.) High School defensive coordinator has been named the new head coach at Marion County High School. His hiring should only fan the flames of what already is one of the state's most heated prep rivalries, since Ross was hired to take over at county rival South Pittsburg in late January of 2013 but resigned abruptly two months later.
He spent last season as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Mary Persons High School, a Class AAAA program in Forsyth, Ga. He helped that program to a 10-2 record, holding six opponents to fewer than 10 points before losing in the second round of the playoffs.
Multiple attempts to reach Ross for comment were unsuccessful.
At Marion County, Ross takes over for Mac McCurry, who was the Warriors' coach for two seasons before resigning in late November.
"We were impressed by his energy and enthusiasm about being a teacher and coach here," Marion County principal Larry Ziegler said of the 39-year-old Ross. "He's had a lot of success in his previous coaching stints, and that success at bigger programs was impressive for us."
Calhoun won eight straight region titles while Ross was on staff. In his five seasons as the Yellow Jackets' defensive coordinator, they reached Georgia's Class AA state championship game five times, winning the title in 2011.
After Calhoun upset nationally ranked Buford for that 2011 championship, Buford coach Jess Simpson said, "Calhoun's defense deserves all the credit. That defensive coordinator is going to make somebody a heck of a head coach one day."
During a 29-game winning streak over the 2011-12 seasons, Calhoun's defense allowed just five opponents to score more than 14 points. After losing all but one starter from the 2011 defense, Calhoun steadily improved during Ross's final year there, holding seven opponents to one touchdown or less in making an improbable run to another title game.
Ross's wife, Sandy, is a 1990 Marion County graduate who lettered in three sports there.
"Finding someone with a tie to our community and who wants to be here long term was very reassuring for us," Ziegler said. "I'm just excited for the boys because these last few months they've been lost. It's great to get to introduce them to their new leader so they can go back to having fun and getting ready for next season."
To this point Ross has spent his entire coaching career in the Peach State. Before joining the Calhoun staff he had been the defensive coordinator at Landmark Christian and Adairsville.
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Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...