Lithia Springs has announced the promotion of Kevin Hill from offensive coordinator to head coach for the upcoming 2017 football season, replacing Jason Dukes.
The Lions finished last season with a 1-9 record and have endured a difficult stretch of play, winning only two out of 38 games through the last four seasons. The Lions did end a 25-game losing streak last season with a 14-7 home win over Decatur Oct. 21. Hill will be the program’s fourth different head coach in the past five seasons.
Hill, who’s originally from Miami, played defensive back at Florida A&M University and graduated from the program in 1998. He moved to Georgia in 2009, serving as an assistant at Westlake as offensive coordinator, Columbia as defensive coordinator and Newton. Hill has previous head coaching experience with a three-year tenure at South Atlanta High School, compiling an overall record of 4-26, ending in 2015.
Despite the obstacles, Hill is optimistic about the prospects of bringing the Lions to respectability.
“This presents an opportunity for us to continue building the program,” Hill said. “We’ve already started offseason strength and conditioning. We’re going to keep things going in the right direction academically and keeping the camaraderie.”
Even with Dukes’ departure, Hill never contemplated leaving the Lions’ program.
“We knew that it was going to be a five-year process when you take over a program that has cycled through head coaches,” Hill said. “I had no plans of leaving and my full focus is on Lithia Springs. My son attends school here and didn’t look at any other opportunities. We have a group of young players we can build with.”
Hill is optimistic about the ninth-grade team from last season that will move into the varsity rotation this upcoming season.
“The transition has been easy because the kids know me and I teach the weight training class so they’re around me most of the day,” Hill said. “We’ve already set the offseason calendar.”
The Lions start spring football on May 1, culminating with a home contest against Fayette County May 12. It will be second game of a doubleheader as Columbia and Morrow will play in the first game.
“We’re starting to install our system,” Hill said. “We’re making some tweaks defensively. Overall, the base and philosophy will still be in place. Part of our plan has been working with the middle schools that feed into our program as well and incorporating our system, making it a family atmosphere and keeping the partnership going. That will help get them acclimated to varsity football faster.”
The players will also stay active in the classroom with tutoring availability for them as well as preparations for standardized tests.
“Football teaches the athlete about life, how to work with others, being part of a team and committed to a goal,” Hill said. “The football program becomes the pride of the community.”
Top performers returning for Lithia Springs will be a rising senior class which includes wide receiver Will Jones, quarterback Kofi Sarpong, offensive tackle Lindon Ross, defensive lineman Michael Subulade and wide receiver/defensive back Cage Myers.
“Those guys have really stepped up,” Hill said. “The football players in Douglas County haven’t been promoted as much as other places and I’m hoping to change that. They get overseen for many things such as summer camps. There isn’t much difference in the athletes but they haven’t received exposure.”
Hill and the Lions program is looking to change that with its doubleheader spring game and an active summer slate including the Cam Newton Foundation seven-on-seven tournament in Marietta June 2.
“We’re trying to get exposure for our kids and good film for recruiters,” Hill said. “Social media has been a big help promoting our game and getting people to talk.”
With the regular season beginning in less than five months, anticipation for the new direction of the Lithia Springs’ program is high.
“People can expect to see a team that’s going to play a full 48 minutes, well-disciplined, organized and that’s not going to be like what’s been previously said about Lithia,” Hill said. “We’ve had good players in the past that could have been competitive as a team. We have to put our players in positions to succeed in the fall and being competitive. We want to operate at a championship level and prepare the kids for the next level.”