FOREST PARK — Forest Park High School has hired Martez Edwards to be its new head football coach beginning in the 2017 season. Edwards will take over for Dale Myers, who coached the Panthers in the last two seasons and was dismissed last November.
Edwards said he applied for several jobs in the state to move closer to his family. He added that Forest Park was intriguing to him because he would have the opportunity to build a program.
“I found this job and applied for a few other jobs in Georgia. This one was one I really felt comfortable with because I looked at it as a project, to build,” Edwards said. “I thought the administration was a great administration. Looking at the potential of building the program back from the problems its had, I’m a guy who loves challenges so I took it and ran with it.”
Forest Park won its first game in two seasons last year, and hasn’t won multiple games in a season since 2013. The football program has had 11 coaches in 15 seasons, and hasn’t qualified for the postseason since 2003.
“We discussed it, I knew they’ve had some troubles,” Edwards said regarding Forest Park’s instability. “I wasn’t really concerned with what they weren’t able to achieve, it was more so about who wanted to be there. Those guys were there and didn’t stay, I think it was more so that they didn’t want to be there. I’m focused on this being something that I want to do, so I’m going to do it.”
Edwards most recently was the head coach at Bessemer City High School in Alabama from 2013 through 2016. As the head coach, Edwards posted a 30-18 record in four seasons, and was a state finalist for Coach of the Year in 2013. He also served as the head coach of Jackson Central-Merry High in Tennessee from 2011 to 2013.
He also has college coaching experience, serving as the linebackers coach at Howard University from 2010 to 2011 and at Jackson State University from 2007 to 2010.
Edwards played for Lane College from 1998 to 2002. He had a decorated career, starting all four years and serving as captain for three years. He was a First Team All-Conference selection in 2002, and still holds the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference record for tackles in a game with 26.
After his playing career, Edwards spent time with the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent. He graduated from Lane College with his bachelor’s degree in mathematics before earning his master’s degree in health, physical education and recreation from Jackson State.
Edwards believes that his extensive playing and coaching backgrounds have prepared him to take on any situation.
“I’m in the middle of my career, so I’ve learned lots of patience,” Edwards said. “That’s one of the major things I’ve learned. Being able to coach at different levels and different levels of athletes, different versions of athletes and being able to maximize their skills on the field — I’ve been exposed to different situations.”
Edwards will take over the Panthers in time for summer practice. He hopes to build the program into a winner again, and to regain community support.
“I want the community to give these kids a chance,” he said. “I want the parents to give these kids a chance by coming out, working hard, showing up. I want the fans to come back and support. Forest Park is the oldest school in Clayton County. It has a lot of rich history. I want those older people to come back and support the program, along with some of the greats like the Hines Ward’s. I want to make the program proud in that sense.”