In 2016, Brad Smith was an assistant coach at Dalton and got to experience what the environment around Allatoona’s football program was like at Cobb EMC/Buccaneer Stadium.
The Catamounts were in the midst of a state semifinal run and a 13-1 season, while the Buccaneers, coming off their state championship season, were in the middle of a 6-6 season.
Still, the stadium was packed, Allatoona played hard and it had a true home-field advantage. Though Dalton won the game 24-22, the trip to Acworth left a mark on Smith.
“I thought this is really a cool place,” Smith said.
Fast-forward seven years and Smith had just finished his third season as the head coach at Loganville. After taking over a 3-8 program in 2020, he led the Red Devils to a 9-2 mark last season — included a team-record 8-0 start — for the team’s first winning season since 2016.
That is when the Allatoona job came open after the retirement of coach Gary Varner, who launched the program in 2008 and led the Buccaneers to 129 wins.
“I had some friends who I played college football with suggest that I apply,” said Smith, who played on the offensive line at Shorter University in Rome. “I wasn’t sure if I had reached that status (to get this kind of a premier job) yet.”
It seems that he has, with Smith hired to replace Varner as the head coach at Allatoona.
Varner stepped down following the 2022 season to concentrate on his health. Smith said he understands the challenges of taking over for the man who began the program and who has been the only coach in the program’s history, but he draw of what he remembered from that game in 2016 was too big of a pull.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” Smith said. “I know the track record, but it just matters a lot over there. I am extremely humbled to be the guy to replace coach Varner.”
Loganville, Smith’s alma mater, was his first head-coaching job after serving as an assistant at Dalton, North Murray and Calhoun. He compiled an 18-14 record during his three years there and took the Red Devils to the playoffs twice. He takes over an Allatoona program that went 6-6 a year ago.
For now, Smith is caught between schools. He plans on being on campus at Allatoona full-time by the end of the month and will teach physical education. However, he is also trying to make sure he leaves Loganville in the best possible condition. He was doing helmet and uniform inventory this week and getting the equipment prepared for the spring.
“It’s important the next guy receives this in order,” Smith said. “That way, all they have to do is put in the summer schedule. This didn’t happen for me (at Loganville), and I have a sense of responsibility.
“I want it to be left the way I would want to receive it.”
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