Brad Waggoner, the new head football coach at Decatur High, wants to rebuild the Bulldogs' football tradition.
Waggoner, 37, played football at Georgia Tech and in Summerville, in North Georgia, since 2009. His best season at Chattooga was in 2009, when the team had a 9-2 record.
He's had several other coaching jobs and worked at the University of Alabama as a graduate assistant.
He's finishing out the school year at Chattooga, but coming to Decatur on Mondays (Chattooga has a four-day school week) and other days to work with the team.
He's and the couple has a young son, Brad Jr.
Waggoner replaces Price Jones, who was 18-22 in four seasons at the school.
The new coach sat down with Patch to talk about his football philosophy and plans to rebuild the program. Part two of the interview will run Friday in Decatur Patch.
Why did you take the Decatur High job?
Growing up in Fayette County, which is just south of here, playing in high school at Landmark Christian, we were a region foe of Decatur so I knew a lot about Decatur. But what really gave me an interest is that you’ve got a great school system. There’s no question that this school system is one of the best in the state.
From a job standpoint, I saw this as a place with tons of potential. It’s a place that has won before. Everybody has short-term memory that in the last five or six years they’ve not been as successful as they were in the past, but there’s no question you can be successful here.
Not every high school has these types of facilities. I also wanted to coach back in the metro Atlanta area. Here are you are in a big city and then you have a small community. The places I’ve been in the past have been small communities where everything kind of revolved around the high school and you have that here.
You look at the city of Decatur in general. People want everything to be first class here. They want this place to be an example for everybody else. There’s no reason why we should not have a first-class football program here.
What do you think of the current state of the football program?
I’m not the type of person who judges how things were done in the past. I know I’m kind of sidestepping the question.
The only thing I have control of is what happens from this point forward. When I met the kids for the first time I said everybody has a clean slate.
I have watched film. I have watched every game tape from the last two years to familiarize myself with the personnel.
I tell people we’re here to rebuild the tradition of Decatur High football. At one time this was one of the best football jobs in the entire state. Coach [Carter] Wilson was very successful here in getting the basketball program back. There’s no reason we can’t do that football wise. It just takes getting involved in the community.
What changes do you plan?
It’s going to be a complete new staff. There’s only one holdover from last year’s staff, Bobby Howard, who is a community coach. He was on Coach [Steve] Davenport’s staff. Having played at Georgia Tech I know Coach Davenport. He was successful here and he had a good staff. The staff is the key component.
I’m looking to bring both my coordinators with me from Chattooga. They’re guys that I’ve worked with a long time.
I’m going to hire guys who are going to be here for the same mission that we are. We’ve got a rebuilding task, but its not as bare, as dismal as some people may think.
How about the other changes you’ve mentioned, such as reinstituting the middle school program?
That’s really a no-brainer. We’ll have a middle school program for the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade team and I’ll be fully involved in every decision made over there.
Freddie Jones, who was a longtime head coach here and has been an assistant coach on the varsity staff the last few years, he’s going to be my head middle school coach. I’m sure he’s had chances to leave Decatur throughout his career and he’s stuck with Decatur and that’s important to me. He’s someone I’ve got a lot of respect for.
I’ve got a lot of trust in him because the middle school program is the key to my whole process.
We’re going to be very involved in every single thing those guys do, starting with the beginning of summer. Those guys will work out here and they’ll be coached by varsity coaches. When they play in the fall obviously Coach Jones will lead them as the head coach and we’ll have some assistants work with them. They’ll play a game on Saturday and I’ll be at every game they have.
I’m not satisfied with just starting a Renfroe Middle School program. We’re starting up the process that will teach those kids the intangibles that we expect at the high school. If there’s a problem there, it will come to me. I’m going to have total control of all programs from sixth grade up.
How would you characterize your style of coaching?
I’m a hard worker. I’m not afraid to make a decision. The decisions that will be made in our program, there’s only one person that will take the blame for them and it’s me.
I’m a good communicator. I believe in making a decision that is always going to be in the best interest of that kid. This is a kid business. We’re here to make sure these kids have every avenue possible to be succeed, not just as a football player but ultimately to be successful in life.
Tomorrow: Part two of the interview.