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PRIVATE SCHOOL SCENE: Piedmont Academy enjoys new coach with big school experience
Peachtree Academy, Covington Academy looking for fresh starts
Mike Parris
Piedmont Academy coach Mike Parris talks about his excitement for taking the Cougars' head coaching job and bringing all his GHSA coaching experience to a smaller school. - photo by Sydney Chacon

Piedmont Academy has coach in Mike Parris with GHSA experience

When the Piedmont Academy Cougars start their 2018 season in the Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association, they’ll do so as a small private school with a little bit of a big school feel — at least as far as its football coach goes. 

The Cougars welcome coach Mike Parris to the sidelines this season, fresh off a 1-10 2017 campaign. Parris has had coaching stops at larger Georgia High School Association schools like Forest Park, Jackson, Heritage and Loganville. Parris was the head coach at Forest Park in the early 1990s when former Georgia star and Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Famer Hines Ward played. 

He also had postseason success with several of the other teams he coached, but decided downsize in taking the Piedmont job, mostly because he wanted to enjoy coaching football again. 

“You know, it just got to the point where when you look up at your team and you’re going 8-3 or 9-3 and winning, but 8-3 isn’t fun anymore,” Parris said during the East Metro Atlanta Football Media Day in late July. “There are just so many other things that go into it, and so much of the politics and just other things that can take the fun out of it. But I’m excited to be at Piedmont because we’ve got some guys who are just out here wanting enjoy playing the game.” 

That doesn’t mean the Cougars don’t have some talent. 

Piedmont’s star will, no doubt, be senior tight end and defensive end JT Webb. Webb is a 6-foot-4, 245-pound specimen who has gotten some looks from Division I programs while turning heads at various camps. 

In that regard, Parris says the coaching will be sort of familiar to what he’s used to. 

“I’ve been around a lot of the recruiting game, and I’ve been around players like JT,” Parrissaid. “He’s a good, good player and will probably be the best player on the field against whoever we play this year. We’ve told him how he’ll need to dominate this league in order for him to really get where he wants to go college football speaking, and I’m looking forward to working with him to help him give himself the opportunity.” 

Webb said he can already tell the difference having Parris pacing the sidelines now. 

“He just puts more emphasis on the conditioning and weight training aspect of things,” Webb said. “We’ve definitely worked harder in the offseason and gotten bigger, faster and stronger. It’s exciting to have someone with that bigger school experience, and I think we’ll benefit from it.” 

Parris acknowledges the vast difference between coaching at a small private school and coaching a Class AAAAAA powerhouse. But ultimately, he said the basics don’t change. 

“At the end of the day it’s still football,” Parris said. “Yes, there are some differences in how we practice. When you go from having maybe 20 to 25 kids in a station at a bigger school, to having 20 to 25 kids total, there are some things you can’t do. Most of our guys will play both ways, so we’ll have to be in good condition.” 

And those challenges don’t change the need to develop the passion for the game and mentality to win. Those are things Parris said he sees in great quantity with his Piedmont players. 

“It’s refreshing to be around guys who’re just out here and having fun playing the game and being with their team,” he said. “We know things don’t happen overnight, but we feel good about the chance of having a competitive football team. I’m looking forward to getting to know them more.” 

Piedmont Academy Schedule

8/24: vs. Monsignor Donovan Catholic, 8 p.m.

8/31 at Thomas Jefferson Academy, 8 p.m.

9/7 vs. Westwood, 7:30 p.m. 

9/14 vs. Terrell Academy, 7:30 p.m.

9/21 at Southwest Georgia Academy, 7:30 p.m. 

9/28 vs. Windsor Academy, 7:30 p.m.

10/12 at Flint River Academy, 7:30 p.m.

10/19 at Crisp Academy, 7:30 p.m.

10/26 at Dominion Christian, 7:30 p.m.

11/2 vs. Gatewood, 7:30 p.m.

Peachtree Academy welcomes new coach for 2018

Coming off the heels of an 8-4, playoff semifinal season, the Peachtree Academy Panthers felt that they could take the Georgia Independent Schools Association by storm in 2017, and they were on the right track to do so early on. 

After losing their opening game of the season, the Panthers stormed back, winning four in a row and outscoring their opponents 139-43. However, the season would move downhill from there, as they dropped their last four games in complete opposite fashion of how they won. They were outscored 167-62 in those four losses and failed to make the playoffs. 

But it is a new season with a new coach in Clinton Miller, but some of the same players like senior standout Hunter Payne.

Despite participating in eight-man football, the Panthers believe they have just as much talent as some of the GHSA schools in the surrounding area, and they will be looking to use that talent to get them back in the playoff hunt. 

The motivation the players receive is due largely in part to the tremendous turn out for each game as supportive fans fill the stands and the surrounding area with chairs as if they were at one big tailgate. 

“We always have incredible support for all of our sports,” said head baseball coach Skip Argo who called the football games last year as well. “Everything is close knit here and we’re like one big family.”

That same support group will be ready to go when the Panthers kick off the season against Harvester Christian Academy on August 17. Other key games on the schedule include a home game against Young Americans Christian and an road trip to New Creation, who defeated the Panthers on homecoming last season. 

Peachtree Academy Schedule

8/17 vs. Harvester Christian Academy, 7:30 p.m.

8/24 vs. California Park Knights, 7:30 p.m.

8/31 vs. Peoples Baptist Academy, 7:30 p.m.

9/7 vs. Praise Academy, 7:30 p.m.

9/14 vs. Unity Christian School, 7:30 p.m.

9/28 at New Creation Christian Academy, 7:30 p.m.

10/12 at Covenant Christian Academy, 7:30 p.m.

10/19  vs. King’s Way Christian School, 7:30 p.m.

10/26 vs. Young Americans Christian School, 7:30 p.m.

11/2 GICAA First Round State Playoffs

11/10 GICAA State Semifinals 

11/16 GICAA State Championship

Covington Academy back on the gridiron 

After a year’s hiatus, Covington Academy will return to the football field with athletic director Travis Price serving as the head coach for this return season. The Bulldogs will participate in the Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association. 


8/17 at New Creation Christian Academy, 7:30 p.m.

8/24 at Victory Baptist-Loganville, 7:30 p.m.

8/30 at David Emmanuel Academy, 7:30 p.m.

9/13 at Community Christian, 7 p.m.

9/28 at Victory Baptist-Loganville, 7:30 p.m.

10/4 at Community Christian, 7:30 p.m.

10/26 at Twiggs Academy, 7:30 p.m.

11/2 at Lanier Christian Academy, 7:30 p.m.

Check next Sunday's print edition and our online Football Preview edition on our website,, for a full feature on Peachtree Academy football and its new coach.

Sportswriter Tyler Williams contributed to this report.