Who will become the new head football coach and athletic director at Thomson High School?
That's a big question and one likely not to be answered until February, The McDuffie Mirror has learned.
More than 100 applicants have expressed interest in the joint position, which became vacant with the retirement of 78-year-old Luther Welsh. Coach Welsh served as the head mentor for a total of 19 years during two stints at the school.
He wasn't the only one to leave the coaching staff after the 2010 football season. Longtime defensive coordinator and assistant head coach John Barnett also retired, as did defensive secondary coach Curtis Williams.
Coach Welsh, one of the most successful football coaches in Georgia prep history, is battling a second bout with cancer. He is taking treatments and hopes to beat it again, as he did several years ago.
In his coaching career, dating back to 1955, coach Welsh compiled an overall record of 333-181-6. While in his first stint at Thomson, he guided the Bulldogs to consecutive Class AAA state championships in his first two years (1984 and 1985). His overall record at the school from 1984 to 1990 was 77-16-1. In his second stint, his overall record from 1999 to 2010 was 106-34-1.
"There's been a lot of interest from applicants seeking that position," McDuffie County School Superintendent Jim LeBrun said in a recent interview.
He said 12 to 15 of the more than 100 applicants are considered top-notch high school coaches.
"We're not going to name any of the applicants at this time because applications still are being accepted," Mr. LeBrun said.
He said school board members might make a decision regarding a recommendation in February.
"The school board won't be making any decision on approving a new coach before that time," Mr. LeBrun said.
The school superintendent said the field of applicants would likely be narrowed down to the top three. An interview process would be then be conducted by Thomson High School prinicpal Rudy Falana and Mr. LeBrun.
A formal recommendation would then be presented to school board members for their approval.
"We'll have someone new in place by the time spring workouts begin," Mr. LeBrun said.