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PAGLIA: Dutchtown football shouldn’t look far for next coach

Photo by Derrick Mahone / Dutchtown defensive coordinator Terry Herrod would make a good choice for the Bulldogs next head coach.

Photo by Derrick Mahone / Dutchtown defensive coordinator Terry Herrod would make a good choice for the Bulldogs next head coach.

At Dutchtown High School’s National Signing Day ceremony, Bulldogs assistant coach Terry Herrod came to the podium and told the crowd of students, parents and faculty in the bleachers he would be brief. But Herrod doesn’t do brief. No, he had a story to tell about each of the five athletes seated at the table next to him, even the two he didn’t coach.

Now, it’s time for Herrod to have another story to tell — the one about his tenure as Dutchtown’s next head football coach.

See, Herrod’s been the right-hand man for Bulldogs head coach Jason Galt the past five seasons as associated head coach and defensive coordinator. But now Galt is gone. He accepted the head coaching job at North Forsyth in Cummings on Feb. 14. He starts work at the Class AAAAAA school March 3.

Meaning Dutchtown is left with its first head coaching search in seven years. Galt went 36-27 in his six seasons with the Bulldogs. He took the program out of its infancy and turned it into a consistent winner, the second winningest in the county over the past five seasons (one win behind Union Grove, for those keeping track).

He leaves as the longest-tenured coach in the county, providing Dutchtown with the kind of stability so many high school football programs across the state hope for.

“He had a huge impact,” said Dutchtown senior Donovahn Jones, who signed with Minnesota. “He’d been teaching us since we were eighth graders coming in. Everything we knew about high school football came from him and Coach Herrod.”

Ah, there is a hint.

Yes, while Galt installed the Double Wing offense, blitzing 4-3 defense and intense strength and conditioning program, Herrod was right there along the way. He joined Galt’s staff in 2008, his first high school football coaching job ever, soaking in every detail of Galt’s building process.

“I really enjoyed coaching with Coach Galt,” Herrod said. “He’s been a great mentor to me these past five years.”

The apprenticeship is over.

If Dutchtown values stability, it’ll promote Herrod. He knows every player on the Bulldogs’ returning roster, one that’s talented enough to contend for a state playoff berth again next season.

If Dutchtown values enthusiasm, Herrod is a no-brainer. You can’t miss him on the sideline, and when he flips his headset to the side, that’s the sign he’s about hit extreme decibel levels. He wants Dutchtown to be great.

If Dutchtown values commitment, how could it not pick the force behind Bulldogs senior Jordan Harris’ signing with Alabama State? At that Signing Day ceremony, Herrod told the crowd he was harder on Harris than almost any other student the past four years. He had to be after making a promise to Harris’ mother.

Herrod walked Harris to his mother’s car following his first high school football practice ever. There was no introduction. Herrod simply said, “You’re son is special. And if he stays here, in four years he’ll end up signing a Division I scholarship.”

Herrod kept his word. Harris, a 6-foot-5, 330-pound offensive lineman, signed with Alabama State and Herrod helped push him through every high and low of his academic career to qualify.

Dutchtown could gamble by bringing in someone new, hoping they’re as good as advertised in the interview.

But why bother when he’s already in the building?

Brian Paglia covers sports for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald newspapers. He can be reached at bpaglia@henryherald.com. On Twitter? Follow him @BrianPaglia.