HAMPTON — Craig Chatman has been in training for his new gig for the last 15 years.
He spent that amount of time working for his former high school coach C.W. Campbell at his alma mater, and then for Al Hughes.
Last season, he served as associate head coach in addition to his offensive coordinator duties. With the associate head coaching title came many administrative duties.
Chatman had the full spectrum of what it took to run a successful football program. And working under Hughes, he was given a lot of responsibility to run his own show.
This experience will serve Chatman well in his new position.
Last week, the Douglas County School Board approved Chatman as the next coach at Lithia Springs High. Chatman will need all the knowledge he gained in helping build Lovejoy into a contender to help construct a successful program at Lithia Springs.
The new coach will inherit a program that is currently on a 13-game losing streak, and has only won three games in the last three years.
By contrast, Chatman was part of a dominant Lovejoy program that has won four straight region championships and made the state finals in two of the last three seasons.
“He will do a great job,” Hughes says of Chatman’s appointment to his new gig.
Chatman definitely has his work cut out for him. He will not be working with the same talent level as he has grown accustomed to at Lovejoy, which consistently produced all-state players and college prospects.
In fact, he is leaving Lovejoy at a time when the talent level is at an all-time high. The Wildcats return both its quarterbacks, but more importantly, wide receiver Preston Williams will be back.
Williams is a five-star prospect, who has committed to Tennessee. Some have touted him as possibly being the top recruit in the nation.
Lithia Springs last had an all-state player in 2008, and its last winning season came in 1999. The Lions don’t have a state playoff berth on its resume.
At Lovejoy, just making the playoffs isn’t considered good enough.
Given time, Chatman has the blueprint to produce some success at Lithia Springs. He is young, and energetic with a drive to succeed.
Any coach that has come from a successful program, has a lot of pride and wants to show they were a part of that success.
And Chatman was a big part, both on and off the field of Lovejoy’s success.
It will take some time for him to establish himself at Lithia Springs. First he has to change the culture, and instill in them a winning mentality.
But there is no doubt, he can do it.
The Lithia Springs community and Chatman must remain patient as the foundation for success must first be built. Lithia Springs will still take some lumps, but remaining patient could definitely produce some successful results in the future.
Derrick Mahone is the sports editor of the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter? @DerrickMahone_