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Waggoner no longer PCHS head man

Brad Waggoner could not pass up the opportunity to get back home.

Waggoner, a Fayetteville, Ga. native, resigned as the Pike County Bulldogs football coach and athletic director Wednesday to take the head football job at Chattooga High School in Summerville, Ga.

“I have wanted to get back to Georgia to coach and when the opportunity presented itself I couldn’t turn it down,” Waggoner said. “Growing up in Georgia, playing high school football in Georgia and playing at Georgia Tech I always knew I wanted to coach in Georgia.”

Waggoner played his high school ball at Landmark Christian School in Fairburn, Ga. and spent his college days at Georgia Tech before getting into coaching. But Waggoner said the abrupt departure from PCHS was simply because he had the chance to go back to his home state.

“This all came down so quickly right before Christmas,” he said. “I was contacted by Chattooga High School, which is about one hour and 15 minutes from my hometown. And obviously the selling point was the opportunity to go home.”

Chattooga athletic director Jim Lenderman was more than happy to get Waggoner.

“We are glad to have him and I think he is an outstanding professional and he knows a lot about football,” Lenderman said. “He has gone into places where there has been success in Luverne and Pike. Those places would not have brought him in unless they thought he could get the job done.”

Lenderman said the Indians have had their own share of success and he said he will do everything in his power to make sure Waggoner continues that success.

“We want to establish a new program here and we wanted to get someone who would stay a while,” Lenderman said. “He is looking at adding his assistants to his staff and we will give him the support he needs to build his staff.”

Waggoner said assistance from the upper management is something he is used to from his time at Pike County.

“I appreciate the opportunity Dr. (Mark) Bazzell gave me at Pike County,” Waggoner said. “Dr. Bazzell is one of the best superintendents I have ever worked for. He made the decision to leave hard for me because he stuck with me through the tough times last year.”

Bazzell accepted Waggoner’s resignation Wednesday and had nothing but good things to say about the Bulldogs former coach and AD.

“Although deeply disappointed, I respect coach Waggoner’s request to be released and wish him the best,” Bazzell said in a press release. “As head football coach, coach Waggoner inherited the youngest and most inexperienced football team PCHS has fielded in the last 10 years. Despite many unnecessary off the field distractions, the football team under coach Waggoner’s direction continued to improve each week and won three of their last four games and made the Class 3A playoffs.”

Bazzell said Waggoner always acted with character and integrity, amidst the tough times early in the year. He added that Waggoner brought financial stability to the PCHS program as athletic director.

Another tough part of the decision was leaving the Bulldog players, who he talked with in length Wednesday.

“The hard part was leaving the kids at Pike County,” Waggoner said. “Those kids have been through some tough times and I am proud to have had the opportunity to work with them. They showed so much heart all year and they stayed loyal to me even through the tough times during the season. They achieved success when people said they would not. That just shows what type of kids are at Pike County.”

Bazzell said the search for a new athletic director and head football coach will begin immediately. The announcement for the position has been posted. He said the Pike County Schools board is aiming to find a replacement by February, but it will all depend on how well the search goes.

“As was the case last year, I am confident that PCHS’s rich tradition will peak the interest of many outstanding coaches who in turn will become quality applicants for this opening,” Bazzell said.