March 2, 2011

Hammond ready to take reins

Transforming “dreams” into reality, Murray County assistant John Hammond, a 19-year veteran of high school coaching, has been promoted to lead the Indians on the football field.

“This is a dream come true,” Hammond said. “This is an opportunity high school coaches eventually want to get to. It’s a dream come true, but now the hard work begins.”

Hammond replaces John Zeigler. A longtime Murray County assistant before taking the head coach’s job, Zeigler stepped aside at the end of the Indians’ season in November after leading the Indians to a 4-16 record over two years.

Hammond is the fourth coach in six years for the program. Because Hammond is already under contract, the change in title is immediate and needs no approval from the school board. The promotion was announced Tuesday, when Hammond met with several returning football players after school for the first time as their head coach.

“It’s like I told the kids,” Hammond said. “I’ve been part of teams that were 14-0 and teams that were 0-10. And everything in between. The difference is not so much the talent level. It’s the effort and hard work and dedication. That’s something we’ll have to build and strive for.

“Coach Zeigler started that as far as better participation and working in the weight room. We’ve just got to build on that and expand it even more.”

Having Hammond already employed as a teacher made his selection preferable, Murray County athletic director Mitch Holcomb said.

“He knows the kids, and he’s been here,” Holcomb said. “He knows what needs to be done to get us on the right track. We’ve been down a little lately.”

Former Southeast Whitfield assistant David Gann and former Ridgeland assistant Keith Mariakis — neither of whom currently work in the Murray County school system — were also finalists for the job. Murray County High did not have an allotment for a new teacher when it made the decision to hire Hammond, Holcomb said.

“We did not have one at the time,” Holcomb said. “We probably could have gotten one, if we had needed it.”

The Zeigler era followed a two-year stint by Josh Lowe, who went 1-19 from 2007-08 and will return to coaching next season at Twiggs County after two years as North Murray High’s athletic director. Prior to that, the Indians were led for 16 seasons by Bill Napier — who will join Dalton’s staff as quarterbacks coach this season — whose teams won three region titles and made eight appearances in the postseason.

The Indians, who currently compete in Region 7-3A, have not had a winning season since 2005, when they went 7-4 and earned a spot in the Class 4A state playoffs. That was also the only winning record posted by Murray County in the past nine seasons.

Hammond has worked for Murray County since taking a teaching position at Bagley Middle School in 2002. He was assistant head coach and defensive coordinator under Lowe. Since then, he has worked with offensive and defensive linemen. He has taught U.S. history for the past three years at Murray County.

A 1991 graduate from Bluefield (W.Va.) State College, Hammond began his coaching career at Virginia’s Richlands High, serving as an assistant on the offensive and defensive lines, as well as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach while working there from 1991-2002. He served as a scout for Richlands in 1992 when it won the Virginia High School League Division 4 state title with a 14-0 record.

Hammond doesn’t anticipate having many upperclassmen when the Indians head to spring practice, most likely in May. He doesn’t necessarily see that as a disadvantage, though.

“We’re going to be a young team,” Hammond said. “We’ll have six or seven people coming back who’ll be seniors. With them being so young, it will be a whole lot easier to teach them, as far as the work ethic and dedication that it takes to be a championship football team. We’re nowhere near that now, but that’s what we’re striving for.”

Text Only
  • NW at SE soccer   5  mlh.jpg On to the title match

    With around 15 minutes left in Thursday’s Region 7-4A semifinals match, Northwest Whitfield High School’s boys soccer team increased pressure on Southeast Whitfield with hopes of a tying goal.
    But the host Raiders were the ones getting the late goal.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • DHS tennis day 2 2 mlh.jpg Prep tennis: Perfect Colts claim title in Region 5-3A

    Coahulla Creek High School’s boys tennis team only needed three years to win its first region championship.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Heritage at DHS baseball 3 mlh.jpg Prep baseball: Cats must win today to clinch No. 2 seed

    Dalton High School’s baseball team led 6-5 against visiting Heritage-Catoosa as late as the fifth inning with a chance to clinch second place in Sub-region 7B-4A.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Region track and field: Richardson paces Murray Co. girls

    Katlyn Richardson has had an impressive junior season for Murray County High School’s girls track and field team.

    April 17, 2014

  • Colts boys have shot at 3A golf state sectional

    Coahulla Creek High School’s boys golf team finished second in the Region 5-3A tournament at Calhoun’s Fields Ferry Golf Course on Thursday, but now the Colts will have to wait to see if they will advance to the Class 2A state sectional tournament.

    April 17, 2014

  • CHS Lowe_Bartley 3 mlh.jpg Let’s keep playing

    Academic offerings played a big part in which college football program nabbed Christian Heritage School’s Nich Bartley, one of the area’s top players in 2013.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Prep roundup: Coahulla Creek hurts N. Murray’s playoff hopes

    One play in the fifth inning, during which the sun got in pitcher Braiden Jacobs’ eyes, seemed to encapsulate the entire season for Coahulla Creek High School’s baseball team.
    But it could be one rule misinterpretation that defines the season for North Murray.

    April 17, 2014

  • NW region tennis 3 mlh.jpg Region tennis roundup: Six area teams clinch spots in state

    Dalton High School’s tennis teams finished their business quickly on the first day of the Region 7-4A tournament.
    Coach David Hilley had no problem with that.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Region track day 2 2 mlh.jpg All the way to the top

    En route to the Region 7-4A track and field championship Wednesday as the host school, Dalton High’s boys team found out what a difference a year makes.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Area middle school roundup: CHS girls soccer team earns shutout win

    Olivia Idom had the lone goal as Christian Heritage’s middle school girls soccer team beat Gladden 1-0 on Monday.

    April 17, 2014