It did not take long for former GMC Prep head football coach/athletic director Steven Simpson to get back into those familiar positions in his new location.
After serving as the Warren County High School defensive coordinator last fall, Simpson will slip his head coaching/AD shoes back on after the departure of former WC head football coach Cherard Freeman. Freeman left Warren County after seven years to take the head coaching job at Bryan County outside of Savannah. According to a Warren County Schools press release, Freeman’s family lives in Statesboro, so the move to Bryan will be much closer to his home.
Simpson, meanwhile, takes over a program that in 2019 had its best season in 12 years.
“I’m excited,” the new Warren County head coach said in a phone interview. “After a year away from being a head coach I kind of got to recharge the batteries a little bit. It made me realize that’s what I really want to be. Now I’ve got another opportunity, and I'm thankful for it.”
Simpson says he did not really expect to take on the head role when he left for Warren, especially not after only one season.
“I felt like it would be a place I could go for a couple of years to see different things, do different things and work with different kids before possibly going through the process of moving up the ladder again. Once I got there I felt like that if Coach Freeman ever left I would have the chance to be head coach, but I didn’t anticipate him leaving anytime soon. He’s well-liked and did a good job.”
The Screaming Devils finished the 2019 regular season at just 6-4, but surprised many with a postseason run that ended in the GHSA Class A-Public quarterfinals. The Devils were road warriors, winning first at Terrell County, then Bowdon before their season was ended by second-ranked state semifinalist Clinch County in a 38-16 decision.
“We had great senior leadership,” Simpson said of the 2019 team. “The kids really bought in in the weight room and they really bought in to what were doing offensively and defensively. They just jelled really well and got hot at the right time. It was really a lot of little things.”
Though the program will take a pretty big hit from graduation, the head of the Screaming Devils still has high hopes for the 2020 campaign. Simpson will continue calling the defense and expects to have a pretty big hand on offense as well in the Screaming Devils’ wing T scheme.
“The expectations for this year are to again be very competitive,” Simpson said. “There will be a couple of new teams in our region that we don’t what to expect from them, but we’re familiar with most of our region opponents. We want to compete well in the region, get back to the playoffs and put together another solid run.”
The competition will look a little different for many teams this fall as the GHSA has undergone reclassification and region realignment. Public and private schools will no longer compete in regions together. Powerhouse Lincoln County has been moved over to Region 8 while Warren will remain in Region 7 along with Hancock Central, ACE Charter and Simpson’s former school, GMC Prep, among others. The Screaming Devils hosted GMC in Warrenton last season but will travel to Milledgeville for this year’s region matchup, so Simpson will make his return to Davenport Field on a different sideline. That game is set for Oct. 23.