Five weeks later, that timeline now has an end date as Stines and his administration have targeted the first week of March as the date when the Eagles expect to announce who their new football head coach will be.
“As far as our head coaching search, we started interviews (two weeks ago),” Stines said. “We interviewed a couple of candidates (two weeks ago) and (we’ve interviewed) anywhere from four to five more to six more candidates (last week). After that, we will decide to narrow it down to a couple (or) three candidates out of that.
“We’ll have our Round 2 of interviews with those couple (or) three and get a few more details with things on them. Then we hope to have somebody named by the first of March. When I say the first of March, that could be the first day of March or the first week of March, at least that’s what our time frame is — by the first week of March or so. We don’t want to extend it any later than that, if possible.”
The are several benefits to having a coach in place in early March. The individual can get to know the school, the area and the returning players quickly. Also, a plan and structure for the spring and summer workouts can be put in place along with hiring a coaching staff.
Since the posting, Stines has received several applications for the position from inside and outside the state.
“We had a pretty good pool of candidates that applied,” Stines said. “A lot of out of state and some in-state applied for the position. That’s kind of where we are right now.
“Hopefully, we’ll have somebody in place by the first week of March. We’re really excited about the candidates that we have.”
Whomever South Cobb selects, that person will have some big shoes to fill. The Eagles have had years of success to varying degrees under several different coaches, but Koester may have given South Cobb its biggest win in the program’s history.
Koester first arrived at South Cobb prior to the 2006 season as a member of Derek Cook’s coaching staff. When Cook left for Kell following the 2007 season, Koester was hired to take his place.
Although Koester left the South Cobb sideline with a 26-27 overall record in five seasons at the helm, the last three years saw him lead one of the best stretches in program history. South Cobb never won a region championship during his tenure, but it did make the state playoffs twice and earned the first postseason win — a 32-28 come-from-behind victory at Windsor Forest in 2011 — in the school’s 60-year history. The Eagles went 22-11 over those final three seasons and claimed the 300th win in team history this past fall.
Though South Cobb narrowly missed the playoffs in 2012 — the Eagles finished 7-3 on the year — it may have been one of the most exciting seasons the team had ever seen. Five of the Eagles’ seven wins were clinched in the final minute of the game or overtime, including their signature win, 27-26 in overtime over a North Cobb team that eventually advanced to the Class AAAAAA state semifinals.
Upon Koester’s resignation, Stines had this to say to the Marietta Daily Journal, “We’ve had more kids out for football this year than any time in the seven years that I’ve been here,” he said. “(Koester) has built it and gotten the numbers out. I can’t say enough about the job he has done.”
Sportseditor John Bednarowski contributed to this report.