Winning season results in football coaching award


Jack Fletcher

Football head coach Chad Phillips has compiled a 42-27 record in six seasons since becoming the head coach of the Panthers, taking the team to state playoffs three times. He won the award for Fayette County Coach of the Year after leading this year’s team to a 10-2 record and a trip to the quarterfinals of state playoffs.

Jack Fletcher, Sports co-editor

Two days after Christmas, Panther head football coach Chad Phillips was given an extra present. On Dec. 27, it was announced that he was named Fayette County’s football coach of the year after leading the Panthers to a 10-2 record and finishing third in the region.

“We had a good senior class, and it was just one of those years where we avoided major injuries,” Phillips said. “We avoided the major injury bug that we can’t have happen here. As you know from our history, if we get a key player hurt, it’s going to cost you, maybe for a whole season.”

It was the third time in five seasons since Phillips became head coach that the Panthers made it to the state playoffs, but it was the first time that he won this award, despite going 14-1 and being state runner-up in his first season in 2010.

We had the better record, which is kind of why I won the award this year.

— head football coach Chad Phillips

“I did not [win coach of the year in 2010], and let me tell you why,” Phillips said. “We went 14-1. Guess who was 15-0 that year? Sandy Creek. We played on Friday night and on Saturday night, and Sandy Creek played and they beat Carrollton for the state championship, so [Sandy Creek head coach] Chip Walker won that year.”

Phillips said the award is based on who has the best record. “[Sandy Creek] was one game better than us that year and won the state championship so you can’t really argue against that,” Phillips said. “By the same token, we were 10-2 this year, and they finished– I think it was 9-3. We had the better record, which is kind of why I won the award this year.”

Phillips became the second football coach in Starr’s Mill history after taking over for former coach Mike Earwood before the 2010 season, who coached the school’s first football team in 1997. The two had coached together for years, however, and it played into Phillips earning the head coaching job.

“Coach Earwood had hired me out of college,” Phillips said. “I coached with him in Cartersville for six years [1990-1996]. Then he left there and went to Upson Lee, and I went to Sandy Creek before Starr’s Mill was even built. He didn’t like it there, and when this school was under construction, he got the head coaching job and he hired [current offensive coordinator Brent] Moseley and I.” 

Despite coaching the Panthers for 12 years, Earwood was a part-time teacher and with the economy as it was in 2009, the school system made budget cuts, and he was one of the casualties. Moseley and Phillips are the last two remaining coaches from the original staff.

“He was working part time the year before along with another older coach we had, and the school system kind of did away with part-time teachers, and he kind of lost his teaching spot, so he went to coach at a private school,” Phillips said. “To make a long story short, there was really not a teaching spot to hire someone from out of the school, and to my good fortune, I got the head job.”

Since then, Phillips has gone 42-27, but doesn’t want to take too much credit for what happens on the field.

“You can’t just have a head coach that’s good,” Phillips said.  “The head coach gets way too much credit and way too much of the blame. If you’re very good, most of the time it isn’t because of the head coach. It’s because you have good players, you’ve got to have a good coaching staff, and it takes great administrative and booster club support.”