Max Wiltz was introduced Thursday as the new football coach at North Clayton, where he has served the last three seasons as the team's defensive coordinatior. Wiltz takes over for Rodney Hackney, who left for a similar position at Atlanta's Washington High.
By Derrick Mahone
Shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday, North Clayton co-athletics director Martisse Troup introduced the school new football coach.
To most of the athletes, parents and school personnel that assembled in the school's cafeteria for the spring awards banquet, Max Wiltz was already a familiar face. For the last three seasons, Wiltz has been the architect of the Eagles' stingy defenses.
Wiltz replaces Rodney Hackney, who left a couple weeks ago for a similar position at Atlanta's Washington High School. With Hackney's pending move, Wiltz ran the team's spring practice.
"I'm really excited getting the season started," Wiltz said. "I think we have a chance to be good."
The Eagles return eight defensive starters and six offensive starters off a team that reached the playoffs for the third straight season. School administrators are confident that Wiltz can continue the winning tradition at the Class AAAA school.
'We feel this is a great hire for us," Troup said. "It helps that he is familiar with he players, and they know him. We feel as it is a great fit. Coach Wiltz has a great rapport with the players."
This will be Wiltz, an Atlanta native, second shot as a head coach. In 1989, he started the Coral Springs Charter School in Florida. He called it a learning experience as the team went 0-10 against a varsity schedule.
"I was real young, I made the mistake of playing a varsity schedule," Wiltz said. "It was a brand new school and program. I learned a lot from that experience. I think that has made me a better coach."
When he took an assistant job at Riverdale in 2001, Wiltz became reunited with Hackney, a former teammate at Clark Atlanta University. '
He has been on Hackney's staff eversince, including stops at Osborne, Mays and Lithonia high schools the last nine seasons.
Former North Clayton linebacker Amarlo Herrera, who will play at Georgia this season, called it a good move for his alma mater.
'"I'm pleased that they give him the job," said Herrera, an all-state player. "He will do a good job. All the players know him, so they don't have to learn a knew coach. I'm sure he will keep the team together."
The Eagles can expect very few changes as Wiltz will stick with a formula that has produced 29 wins the last three seasons and three straight playoff appearance. Wiltz said he will continue to run the defense.
"We're expecting a big year," he said. "I still want to do the defense."
Offensively, the Eagles will be led by rising senior quarterback Dennis Johnson, who is a two-year starter and running back sensation Ladarrius Mathis.
Offensive coordinator Demarco Mitchell is expected to follow Hackney to Washington. Wiltz said that Marquez Thomas and Derrick Avery might share the coordinator duties as the team is expected to open the offense up a little more this season. Thomas was on Riverdale's staff the last two seasons and Avery arrived at North Clayton three seasons ago.
It will be big that we have a staff that has been together for a while," Wiltz said. "We will change a few things and open up the offense. We have a lot of experience on defense. We will have some of the same schemes, but a lot will depend on our personnel."