The old saying is that the third time is the charm.
For Lakeside High School, boosters likely are hoping their third football coach this century is the secret to gridiron success.
As a recent parent study points out, Columbia County's public schools haven't exactly established football dynasties. In fact, only three Columbia County public high school football teams have posted a winning record in any of the past five years (Congratulations to Harlem in 2005, Evans in 2004 and Greenbrier in 2003).
During that time, Randy Hill has served as athletic director and head coach at Lakeside, the only school without a winning season in any of the past five years. The correlation is unmistakable: the school that has produced more STAR students than any other area school also has won fewer football games than any in the county - just 11 in the past five years, against 38 losses.
Parents on Friday nights aren't content with chanting about high test scores, however. They want high scores on the field. When the teams coached by Hill didn't score enough wins, the parents and football boosters who five years earlier engineered Hill's hiring began clamoring for his firing.
They got their wish. Hill is now being replaced with Jody Grooms, a highly regarded coach from Anson High School in Wadesboro, N.C. Three parents and three staff members helped Lakeside High School Principal Jeff Carney pick Grooms as the school's next athletic director and head football coach for the Panthers.
The numbers for Grooms certainly look good. Grooms' football team posted a winning record last year, going 10-6 and reaching the state quarterfinals. Overall, Grooms' teams at Anson have posted a 26-14 record.
It should not go unremarked, however, that the players who produced those winning records on the field are in a school that ranks near the bottom, academically, in North Carolina. One academic ranking service places Anson 304th out of 393 schools in the state; the same rankings place Lakeside 17th of 340 Georgia high schools.
And what about those SATs? For the most recent comparable years, Anson's average score is 885, far below the national average. Lakeside's score is 1,105 - well above the national average.
Grooms has coached winning football teams in an academically poor school. That gives parents plenty to cheer about on Friday night, but not much cause for optimism on graduation day.
If Grooms can motivate Lakeside's academically high-achieving students to produce wins on the football field, he'll be working a miracle that has eluded every other coach in Columbia County in recent years.
And if that happens, he really is leading a charmed life.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.