By Derrick Mahone
The challenge of rebuilding the Forest Park football program back into respectability is what lured Nick Mrvos from a comfortable assistant position.
Mrvos spent last season coaching offensive line at Rockdale, which advanced to the Class AAAA semifinals for the first time in school history. He hopes to transform the Panthers into a consistent playoff contender.
Forest Park hasn't earned a playoff berth since 1996 and has had nine consecutive losing seasons.
"The main thing is that Forest Park has had a good history," Mrvos said. "It is going to be a challenge to bring it back. I was attracted to the job because I can create a program the way I want it to be."
Wednesday he started his first day at Forest Park meeting with players. He left impressed with what he heard.
"They were real excited about getting started," Mrvos said. "We will have some kids involved in other sports, which is good, but the ones that are not will start conditioning. I'll be walking the hallways talking to players to get participation up."
Mrvos former boss thinks he will be a good fit for Forest Park.
"He has a lot of coaching experience," Rockdale coach Mike Etheridge said. "He is a good disciplinarian. He is a good person that relates well with people. When he interviewed for a position on my staff, we talked for three hours, but never about football."
Mrvos grew up around football with his father, Sam, having coached at Georgia under both Wally Butts and Vince Dooley. As a college student at Georgia, the younger Mrvos was a student assistant coach at his alma mater Cedar Shoals.
"I think it will definitely help that he grew up as a coaches' son," Etheridge said. "He will experience a lot different things as a first year head coach, but I think he can make a big difference for the program."
As he conducts interviews for seven assistant coaching positions, Mrvos will take the Panthers through offseason conditioning starting Monday.
Another goal is to build community morale. He said he will meet with nearby Babb and Forest Park middle schools about building a relationship.
"The good thing is that I'm already in the school, and the kids will get a chance to know me," said Mrvos, who will teach advance placement history. "I know our feeder schools have some good players."
Prior to going to Rockdale, Mrvos spent a season at West Laurens and two years at Bradwell, which made the playoffs the two seasons he was there. He also coached under the legendary Billy Henderson at Clarke Central.
One of his top priorities is to hire a defensive coordinator. On offense, he will hire position coaches while he assumes the play calling duties of the Wing-T offensive scheme.
"I'll have a couple coaches from the previous staff help me," Mrvos said. "We are looking forward to getting them on the field for spring practice."