Shane Williamson resigned Thursday as Forsyth Central head football coach after three seasons, a tenure that included the first winning season for the Bulldogs in 13 years.
Williamson informed the team Thursday morning of his decision after meeting with Central principal Mitch Young and athletic director Dan Kaplan.
“I explained to [the team] there’s a business side,” Williamson said. “After meeting with Mr. Young and Dan Kaplan, and having some talks and conversations with them, I thought it was time for me to go in a different direction.”
Kaplan said in an email that Williamson will remain at the school as a physical education teacher.
“We appreciate his contributions to the school and the difference he has made in the lives of our athletes,” Kaplan continued. “We will immediately begin the process to search for a coach that is a good fit for the direction of our program and our recent reclassification.”
When Williamson arrived at Central in 2013, he inherited a program and community starving for success, and briefly he gave it to them. After going 2-8 his first season, Central went 6-4 in 2014, the program’s first winning season since the Bulldogs went 7-4 in 2001 under Bob Herndon.
But Central couldn’t recapture that winning formula this past season despite a 2-0 start for the second straight year. Injuries mounted, most crucially to dynamic running back Shaun Diebel, and the Bulldogs lost five straight. When Central got back to full strength, it won two of its last three to finish 4-6.
Williamson is 78-71-2 in 14 seasons as a head coach at Central, Toombs County and Swainsboro, including 12-18 in three seasons with the Bulldogs.
Despite his record, Williamson believes Central has made significant strides during his time in charge.
“The biggest thing is how far the program has come in three years,” Williamson said. “Just seeing the kids grow and develop, seeing the program expand. We have a feeder program, the Junior Bulldogs. We’ve made great strides in strength and conditioning. And I feel our quality of play – we’ve become more competitive.”
The next coach will be entering a new era for Central as it goes from playing in Region 7 in Class AAAAA to Region 5 in the newly created Class AAAAAAA along with the county’s four other public high schools in Lambert, North Forsyth, South Forsyth and West Forsyth. The move goes into effect at the beginning of the 2016 fall season and should help reestablish county rivalries for Central and improve travel.
It should also test the Bulldogs’ ability to compete against schools with larger enrollment. Central last competed in the state’s largest classification in 2006 and 2007. The Bulldogs went 3-7 both seasons.
Williamson’s resignation makes Central the second school in the county looking for a new head football coach. Jason Galt and North parted ways on Nov. 20.
“I just want to thank the student body and all the teachers for welcoming us into this community and having a good family atmosphere,” Williamson said. “We truly enjoyed our time as the head football coach family here.”