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Roper, Mobley resign as head baseball coach
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As the saying goes, "when it rains it pours."

The most recent rainstorm comes at the hands of the Newton and Alcovy High baseball programs. Not just one, but both county high schools will soon be conducting a search for a new head coach.

On Thursday, Billy Roper (Newton) and Joe Mobley (Alcovy) each resigned from his respective post.

Roper accepted the position as assistant varsity football coach and assistant varsity baseball coach for the North Cobb Warriors, while Mobley will remain at Alcovy and continue assisting with the football team as offensive coordinator.

According to Roper, who coached the Newton baseball squad for eight years, he cited three primary reasons for the change - family, football and a bigger opportunity.

"Ultimately, I think it's a family situation," Roper said. "With my parents both getting older, I'm away from home and furthest away. That's probably the first thing that made me start thinking about it. The second thing is my goal of being a head football coach one day, and I've got to get somewhere where I'm able to coach football as well as baseball.

"And the third part is getting to Cobb County; that's the baseball Mecca in the state," he added. "Getting an opportunity to coach at a place like North Cobb is something I just didn't feel like I could pass up. It gives my own kids a chance to grow up around the best baseball in the state."

In 1998 Roper, who was also the defensive coordinator for the Newton football team from 2000 to 2007, took over head coaching duties, replacing Michael Davis. It took Roper just six years to reach the 100-win mark, an average of nearly 17 wins per season. Overall, he led the Rams to 125 victories.

Last year he traveled to St. Louis and was honored by the National High School Baseball Coaches Association for earning his 100th win. He also received the 10-year membership award. In addition, the Georgia Dugout Club presented Roper with a plaque recognizing the milestone.

"Well, I'm going to miss my kids; I'm nothing without the kids (and) parents," Roper admitted. "As far as my facilities go, everything that I've done until day one I've always wanted to improve and have the place looking better than it was when I came, and I think that's something that I've been able to do."

Perhaps Roper's fondest memory was in 2003 when he led the Rams to the Class AAAAA Sweet 16 with an overall record of 20-6. As a result, Newton hosted a playoff game.

"Newton County gave me my start and gave me a chance," Roper said, "and there'll never be another first opportunity."

He acknowledged there was a long line of individuals to thank, including J.W. Rutledge, who was Newton's principal at the time Roper was hired.

"I'd like to thank him for giving me a chance when nobody else would," Roper said.

Others paving the way for Roper include Perry Haymore, Ben Reaves, David Easterday, Joe Gheesling and Tracey Curtis to name a few.

"For the most part, anything I asked for they tried to get for me," Roper said, "so I'd like to thank all those guys for playing a major part in my tenure here."

As for Mobley, things failed to pan out the way he had originally hoped for as head skipper for the second-year Tigers.

"The main problem is just some of the conflict," Mobley said, citing no specific reasons, "but I wouldn't call it constant conflict. The administration was highly supportive - extremely supportive, and the kids were pretty good for the most part. There was just some conflict, but I thought we made great improvement considering we had seven sophomores (this year)."

In two seasons, Mobley led the Tigers to an overall 11-35 record. Last year the Tigers were 4-18 compared to 7-17 this season.

"It was a fantastic two years," Mobley said. "The kids made great strides and did a great job. For a new program, I think we shocked a lot of people.

"I love teaching there and love the kids," he added. "It was just unfortunate this has happened and the way it played out, so I'm just going to move on. I chose to step down to hopefully make a difficult situation better, and I thought it'd be best for the program (to) get started with a clean slate."

Mobley's fondest memories were winning the first game in school history last year - a 9-8 victory over Habersham Central in 13 innings - and witnessing Ross Roberts hit the first Alcovy home run this season.

"That's what I'm going to miss the most - working with some of the kids," Mobley said. "That's what you're in coaching for, to work with kids like that.

"I would like to thank (David) Easterday just for allowing me to start the program," he continued. "It was quite an honor to get the program started; not a lot of people get that opportunity. I'm just a little disappointed that it didn't all work out, but I wish the kids the best and the program the best. They'll keep it going and continue to help it grow."

In a downtrodden year on the diamond, the three county schools - Alcovy, Eastside and Newton - were a combined 24-52 (32 percent) overall this season.

And despite rumors, no doubt stemming from the departure of both Roper and Mobley, Eastside baseball coach Michael Poor will return next year, saying that he "loves coaching at Eastside and hopes to be there for a long time."