Photos by Derrick Mahone
Forest Park first-year coach Edmund Coley is hoping to build a foundation that will help turn a struggling program around. The Panthers have only six wins in the last four seasons.
By Derrick Mahone
When Forest Park principal Derrick Manning hired Edmund Coley to lead the school's struggling football program, he didn't see him as a coach accepting his first head coaching assignment.
Manning sees him as a young, energetic coach with a wealth of experience as an assistant.
Coley has served as an assistant at Dunwoody and was most recently the offensive coordinator at upstart Locust Grove. It was his experience in helping guide Locust Grove from the junior-varsity level into a first year varsity program.
That experience could be helpful at Forest Park, which has been a revolving door of coaches the last nine seasons with six different coaches. With a lack of stability, the program has suffered with only 12 wins during that span.
"First off, I saw a person that was an outstanding individual," said Manning, who is entering his second year at Forest Park. "He is definitely interested in not only winning, but building a solid foundation.
He knows his Xs and Os, which is a big piece to putting it all together."
Coley played his college football at Georgia Southern under current Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson. He was part of one of the Statesboro's school six national Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA).
Coley's former boss at Locust Grove, Clint Satterfield, thinks his championship background should boost well in the new job.
"He has a good background in football," Satterfield said. "I know the players will love playing for him. He is very professional in his approach."
Because of his late hire, Coley didn't take the Panthers through spring drills. He was more of a "spectator" as interim coach Steven Cole ran the show. Although Coley is a fan of Johnson's option-type offense, he is not locked totally into running it at Forest Park.
Team personnel will dictate the offensive, which he is leaning towards more like Nebraska.
"In college, you can bring in the type of players that you need to run the offense," Coley said. "On this level, you run the offense according to the personnel you have. We will adjust to what type of players we have in the program."
So far, he has been impressed with the team's dedication. He said that about 45 players have consistently attended summer workouts.
With 18 seniors, Coley is placing a lot of the leadership responsibility on that class.
"These seniors are going to have to be the ones that change the mentality of the program," Coley said. "We want them to show that Forest Park can compete and take some pride in the school."
It was that school pride, despite the losing, that attracted Coley to apply for the job.
"It doesn't matter where I go, you will always run into a Forest Park alumni," Coley said. "They love this school. I think it has a very good involvement in the community. We have to invest in the community, and I'm sure it will invest in us. I've received nothing but positive reaction when I've mention the football program."
Not only has Coley had to build trust in the community, but more importantly, among the team. This senior class has had three different coaches in their four-year career.
Coley showed he was dedicated by working several months at the school without a contract.
"I feel I've got the support of the principal and staff over here," Coley said. "Our main goal will be establishing some stability to this program. We want to get back to respectability in the county and on a state level. We want people to be proud of Forest Park High."