Frank Hepler has accepted the job as Forsyth Central's 15th head football coach, it was announced via a press release from the school on Friday morning.
Hepler already has local ties to the county and the region. He started the West Forsyth program in 2007, and in seven years built an impressive 51-18 record. The Wolverines went 8-2 in their first full season, advanced to the state quarterfinals in 2011 and won the Region 6-AAAAA title in 2012.
He and his wife, Heidi, moved back to Florida in 2014 to be closer to her parents, taking teaching jobs, but couldn't manage to sell their house in Forsyth County. They returned to their home this past year, with Hepler accepting the job as the first head coach at Discovery High School, a start-up program in Lawrenceville. Hepler had just become accustomed to his 45-minute communute to Gwinnett County when he found out the Forsyth Central job was still open.
He couldn't help but submit an application, and soon after he was hired.
“My wife and I thought it would be great to get back to where we love,” Hepler said. “Six months ago. Two months ago. I never foresaw this happening.
“I believe it's all in God's plans.”
Hepler takes over a Central program that went 12-18 in three seasons under head coach Shane Williamson. Williamson led the Bulldogs to their first winning season since 2001 when they went 6-4 in 2014, but they drifted back to a 4-6 record this past year.
With Central moving into the newly-created Class AAAAAAA, prepared to compete in a region against the other four public schools in Forsyth County and Milton, Central principal Mitch Young felt like Hepler was perfect for the job.
“Frank is a family-centered man. He walks the talk and has the expectation that his players will develop into quality young men, academically, athletically, and most important, morally,” Young said. “His ability to build and maintain all aspects of a football program—from feeder systems to communication with the boosters to working with his teaching colleagues—will undoubtedly lead to long-term success.”
“Being able to play against West Forsyth will be tough in a lot of ways,” Hepler said. “Some of my greatest friends are there, families we worked with and lived around. It will be exciting also because I know it will be great competition, the kids will play hard. I think it's a great set up. The region worked out perfect.”
West head coach Adam Clack, who served as the offensive coordinator for three seasons under Hepler, is glad to hear Hepler has returned to the region.
“I think nothing but great things. I'm happy for him,” Clack said. “To have the opportunity to come back home, to build up a program, is great. I know he's going to be outstanding.”
Hepler has an overall coaching record of 189-56 through 21 years of coaching high school football. He built a 134-32 record at Planation High School in Florida, with five undefeated teams, nine district titles and 12 state playoff apperarances.
Hepler played football at Catawba College for three years before finishing his education at Florida Atlantic University in 1985.
Because he's lived in his Forsyth home for the past year, Hepler said his move to Central will be more of a soft homecoming. Though, not having to drive to and from Gwinnett every day has opened some old doors.
“I like to go workout at Crossfit Dynamo. I haven't been able to do that because I've been spending so much time in the car. So, I'm anxious to get back into it,” Hepler said.