Eddie Lee Ivery and Bobby Thomas are preparing to reunite themselves with high school football and legendary Georgia prep Coach Luther Welsh at Thomson High School, The McDuffie Mirror has learned.
The two new assistant football coaches began their new roles at the school on Tuesday - the first day of spring football practice, which is set to run for two weeks. Coach Ivery was a star running back with the Green Bay Packers for several years, while Coach Thomas is a former prep football coach and now a successful businessman in Greene County.
"Both of these men have been with me before," Coach Welsh said. "They know what I expect of them and they know how to get the job done. Both of them will be a big help and add to our coaching staff. They both bring a lot of knowledge to us about football. They will be good additions for our football program, our kids and our community."
The 50-year-old Coach Ivery served as an assistant football coach under Coach Welsh back in 1989 during the head mentor's first stint at Thomson High School. At that time, he coached offensive backs and quarterbacks - the same job he will hold down now that he has been rehired by the McDuffie County Board of Education. School board members voted last week to hire him as the school system's Parent Involvement Coordinator.
For the past seven years, Coach Ivery, who was a standout football and basketball player at Thomson High School before graduating in 1975 and going on to play college football at Georgia Tech, had served as the strength and conditioning coach for the Yellow Jackets.
Coach Thomas, now 48, owns and operates his own business, known as Oconee Stone Company, Inc. in Greensboro. A former football player and head coach at Warren County High School for a year, Coach Thomas is a 1978 graduate of Briarwood Academy.
Coach Thomas also has worked under Coach Welsh on two previous occasions - when Coach Welsh served as head football coach at Camden County and again when he served in that same capacity at Greene-Taliaferro County High School in Greensboro.
Unlike Coach Ivery, who will become a staff member at Thomson High, Coach Thomas replaces longtime assistant football Coach Willie Williams. Coach Williams told The Mirror last week that he was relieved of his duties as a community football coach about a month ago during a meeting with Coach Welsh and Thomson High School Principal Rudy Falana. Coach Williams, who will remain an assistant boys' track and field coach at the school, said he did not wish to make any further comment about the decision.
Meanwhile, Coach Ivery said he was looking forward to getting back to football.
"This is such a great opportunity for me to be back coaching with Coach Welsh at Thomson High School - my alma mater," Coach Ivery said on Monday. "I've had such a burning desire to get back into coaching high school football for so long. This really means a lot to me to have this opportunity."
While at Georgia Tech, Coach Ivery - who went back to school nine years after he was a star running back for the Yellow Jackets to earn his degree in industrial management - said the Thomson job came open at the perfect time. He was looking for a coaching job on the high school level and called Coach Welsh in hopes of getting a letter of recommendation to accompany his application for the head coaching job at Heritage High School in Conyers. Turns out, opportunity was waiting much closer to home.
"My heart and spirit is in coaching football at Thomson High School," Coach Ivery said. "I'm real excited about coaching under Coach Welsh again, because he is one of the greatest high school football coaches that I've ever known. This is like a dream come true to be able to give back to this community. I want to motivate each player deep down inside in order to find their full genetic potential."
And like every player that straps on a Thomson High helmet, Coach Ivery has visions of a championship flittering in his head.
"That's something I've never had in my career," Coach Ivery said. "I've never been a part of a championship team in high school, college or in pro football."
Coach Ivery, who plans to move back to Thomson soon, is now married to Antoinette Ivery. The couple is expecting a child in a few months.
Coach Thomas also is looking forward to the challenges that await him - especially since he has been away from coaching football players for so many years.
"I'm very excited to be back coaching football under Coach Welsh," Coach Thomas said.
Coach Thomas, who is married to Beth Thomas and has two sons, ages 5 and 7, knows what Coach Welsh wants and knows how to deliver those goods.
"We think alike," Coach Thomas said. "I know what he wants and I know how to get it done."
After graduating from Mississippi State University in 1983 where he earned a degree in secondary education, Coach Thomas taught and was head football coach at Warren County High School for a year. His football team went 9-1 that season - their only loss coming at the hands of the Lincoln County Red Devils, which was bolstered by a star running back named Garrison Hearst.
"This is something I had wanted to do for several years, but I couldn't at the time because of my business," said Coach Thomas, who'll serve as backfield and quarterback coach for Thomson. "I'm now in a situation where I can do both jobs."