Kevin Jones named new coach at Mount Zion

Kevin Jones has found a new head coaching home at Mount Zion, less than one month after resigning the position at Dutchtown. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

Kevin Jones has found a new head coaching home at Mount Zion, less than one month after resigning the position at Dutchtown. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

HAMPTON — Kevin Jones is coming back to coach in the county he calls home. And he’ll still be a Bulldog.

Wednesday, in the midst of Signing Day drama, Jones confirmed that he had been named as Mount Zion’s new football coach. His predecessor at the Clayton County school, Ervin Starr, was relieved of his duties after compiling a 1-20 mark in two years at the helm.

Given the last few months of difficulty for Jones after resigning from Dutchtown after his only season as head coach, citing “differences in vision,” Jones said his transfer from one Bulldog program to another is one that he’s excited about.

“I gladly took the Mount Zion job,” Jones said Wednesday. “I met with them and the parents. There are some good looking kids in that program. There’s a lot of potential there for next year.”

Prior to taking the Dutchtown job, Jones had a three-year run as defensive coordinator at Lovejoy. He helped guide the Wildcats to back-to-back state championship game appearances. His success landed him an opportunity at Dutchtown, where Jones steered the Bulldogs to a 4-6 season, despite losing a boatload of talent. Seven Dutchtown players have signed college scholarship offers this year.

Suffice it to say, things looked fairly bright from the outside looking in, but Jones said the vision differences were something that couldn’t be overcome. He tendered his resignation in mid-January, and took a few days to mull over other coaching options before the Mount Zion opportunity sort of came out of nowhere.

“I didn’t even initially put in for the job,” Jones said. “My phone kept ringing, and I didn’t recognize the number so I didn’t answer. Then I got a call from Clayton County (athletics director) Kevin May who said someone was trying to get in touch with me about a job.

“It was Coach (Jason) Battles, their AD trying to reach me. When we finally talked, he told me he didn’t care anything about what had happened at Dutchtown, and that he wanted me to come back to Clayton County and help breathe life back into Mount Zion’s program.”

Despite its recent struggles, Mount Zion hasn’t always been considered a viable homecoming opponent. The Jonesboro school saw great success under its first coach Jackie Green, who led the program for its first 15 years. During that stretch, the Bulldogs had nine winning seasons, six of which included a trip to the state playoffs.

The 1999 team, perhaps the best in school history, finished 14-1 under Green with a 17-7 loss to Oconee County in the Class AAA title game.

Since then, however, the school has gone through four coaches in the last seven seasons, including a 2010 season which required the Bulldogs to forfeit their first five wins due to using an ineligible player.

Jones had another one-year stint as head coach in a Clayton County school when he led Riverdale to a 7-3 record in 2006.

Jones said he was overcome with emotion when Battles gave him the offer.

“I almost started crying,” he said.

Jones also said that while he knows a rebuilding project is in the works, he’s more than up for the challenge.

“As I said, we’ve got a lot of good looking young kids over there right now,” he said. “Although those guys went 0-10 last year, you’re talking about a lot of ninth- and 10th-graders who played varsity, and have that year of experience under their belts.

“There’s some work to be done, no doubt about it. I don’t have a problem with that, though. We have the support of our athletic director and administration, so we should be fine.”