It was just a year ago Harrison football coach Matt Dickmann was standing on the stage at Georgia State holding the 2019 Class AAAAAA state championship trophy after completing the only perfect 15-0 season in Cobb County history.
A week after completing the 2020 season, Dickmann resigned his position as head coach of the Hoyas.
“I thought it was the right time,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of success.”
Dickmann is only two years away from being vested in the state of Georgia, and after 34 years on the sideline, he said he felt it would be wrong to continue in the position on a year-to-year basis.
“There’s never really a good time,” he said. “But it would have been selfish of me to stay year-to-year, not knowing when I’d leave.”
Dickmann arrived at Harrison prior to the 2013 season and guided the Hoyas to a 60-32 record, which included two region titles and the program’s first state championship, a 20-7 victory over then region-rival Allatoona. He had three straight 5-5 seasons to begin his tenure as he rebuilt the team’s foundation, and then went 43-9 from 2016-19.
During that time he coached a pair of current Division I quarterbacks in current Ohio State standout Justin Fields, and Gavin Hall, who is in his first season at the University of Toledo. Overall, there are currently 19 players on Division I rosters and many others in all levels of college football. That list will likely grow later this week when at least another half dozen players are expected to sign national letters of intent.
After winning the state title last season, Harrison was reclassified into Class AAAAAA for 2020. The Hoyas started the season 0-4, which included missing four consecutive weeks because of COVID-19 protocols. But the team played its best football in the second half of the season, rallying to make the playoffs. The Hoyas beat Newnan 26-24 in the opening round of the playoffs, but fell in Round 2 to Grayson 30-6.
It was a season Dickmann said he will never forget.
“When you coach as long as I do, sometimes you have to step in when the road gets rough because people are pointing fingers,” he said. “ This team never did that. They stayed together. I’m proud of them for the way they fought and overcame adversity.”
Going further, he said it would be difficult to pick out many memories over others as each of his eight teams provided experiences he wouldn’t trade.
“Every group was a pleasure to coach,” he said. “Every class has a memory.”
Dickmann said he hopes current Harrison assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Joshua Cassidy will be promoted to head coach. Cassidy came to the Hoyas program when Dickmann arrived. Dickmann said Cassidy is a younger man, and someone who would be with the program for a long time. Dickmann also said he would consider sticking around to help with the strength and conditioning part of the program.
That being said, Dickmann said he was at peace with his decision and that it is time to spend some time with his family.
“My family has made a lot of sacrifices,” he said. “During my coaching career, I’ve never missed a game or a practice, because when you make a commitment, you have to be there.
“My family knew that during football season, they didn’t go anywhere. Now, if we want to get away, we can do something.”