By Doug Gorman
Bob Ryan spent years working as an assistant high school football coach.
Now after paying his dues, the veteran assistant finally gets the chance to run his own program after being named the new head coach at Mt. Zion High School.
Ryan takes over for Jackie Green, who started the Mt. Zion football program when the school opened in 1989, but retired at the end of the last season as the second winngest coach in Clayton County history.
For Ryan and the players on the team, it should be an easy transition since he served as one of Green's assistants for the past five seasons, including as offensive coordinator last year.
"I have waited for this opportunity for a long time," he said. "To be honest, I wasn't ever sure it would come. Now, I'm like a kid at Christmas."
Ryan takes over a program which went 8-3 last season, losing to Lakeview Ft. Oglethorpe in the playoffs.
The Bulldogs' new football coach plans to build his program around the defensive side of the football, but like past Mt. Zion teams, it should have another strong running attack."
"That (running) won't change," said Ryan. "Coach Green won here by running the football, and so will we. We might throw the ball a little more too."
This is Mt. Zion's second full week of practice, and Ryan said he is pleased with the way things are coming together."
"I couldn't be happier," he said. "This is the best coaching staff since I have been here."
Ryan should know plenty about his team by the end of the week.
The Bulldogs will workout three times a day through Thursday, including two workouts daily in full pads.
The afternoon session will focus on special teams.
Mt. Zion opens the season on Thursday, Aug. 18 with a game against rival Lovejoy.
It is one of two Thursday games on the the Mt. Zion schedule this season. The Bulldogs also play six Saturday games this year.
"We will be ready to play on whatever day we are scheduled," Ryan said.
A year ago, Mt. Zion beat Lovejoy in the opener between the two non-region county rivals, but both teams went on to make it to the state playoffs.