This upcoming fall, the Jackets defensive coordinator will be marching up and down the sidelines, except it won’t be at Phil Reeve Stadium.
Last week, Ross was named the head coach at South Pittsburg High School, a tradition-rich football program in the Volunteer State, ending his time at Calhoun after eight seasons, the last five as defensive coordinator.
“For me to leave a place like Calhoun after all the success and support we’ve had there over the last few years, I really wanted it to be a good situation I was stepping into,” said Ross. “And I think (South Pittsburg) is that situation for me. There were a lot of similarities to Calhoun with the community support, administration and tradition there, and I think to be the coach there is a great honor.”
Ross has been the defensive coordinator for the Jackets for the past five years, which have all ended in the Class AA State Championship game at the Georgia Dome. This past season, Ross had one of his hardest jobs yet, replacing 10 of 11 starters from the state championship team of 2011, but he was up for the challenge as the defense improved dramatically from the start of the season and peaked in the playoffs.
He said a big part of what has prepared him to be a head coach is learning from Hal Lamb.
“When they asked me why I thought I was the right man for the job, I told them that for the past eight years, I’ve worked for the best in the business,” said Ross. “Coach Lamb is one of the best around and one of the best leaders there is.
“I’ve had eight years to learn from him, and I’m going to try to apply a lot of that (at South Pittsburg).”
Lamb said it’s tough to lose any assistant; much less one the caliber of a coach as Ross, but the Calhoun football program would just have to move forward.
“Obviously, Coach Ross has done a great job here,” said Lamb. “I’m really happy for him, but now we have to move on and find the best person to replace him.
“We try to provide for our assistants the best we can here, but I know a lot of guys have the aspirations to be a head coach, and I’m all for it. We’ve got one of the best coaching staffs there is, and I think we’ve done a good job to get them ready for opportunities like this.”
Lamb, who will be entering his 15th season as head coach at Calhoun this upcoming fall, said the process to find a new defensive coordinator will begin immediately.
“We’re looking right now, and we’re going to do our best to find the right fit for us,” said Lamb. “There are several guys we’re excited about, and hopefully, we’ll have one in the next few weeks.
“We’ve got to move on, and find a good replacement. We have to find someone that will fit well with the staff, the school and the players.”
For Ross, who will start his new job around early March, the biggest thing he’s looking forward to is building relationships at South Pittsburg like he has in his time at Calhoun.
“The greatest thing about coaching is the relationships you have with the players,” said Ross. “I’m excited about developing those genuine, day-to-day relationships and investing in the kids. That’s what makes leaving (Calhoun) so hard is the relationships I’ve built here, but at the same time, I’m looking forward to building new ones there.
“I’m extremely blessed to have had so many great times at Calhoun, and I’m hoping to apply what I’ve learned here and have a lot of great times at South Pittsburg.”