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Football: Former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Terance Mathis to be new Pinecrest Academy head coach
Terance Mathis
Terance Mathis played 13 seasons in the NFL, including eight with the Atlanta Falcons, but as of Friday he'll be the new head football coach at Pinecrest Academy. - photo by Sports Staff

Former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Terance Mathis will be introduced as the next Pinecrest Academy head football coach at a press conference at the school Friday.

A 13-year NFL veteran, Mathis played eight seasons with the Falcons and was one of the most productive offensive players in team history. When he left Atlanta after the 2001 season, he was the team’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions.

After his NFL career, Mathis and his family settled in Forsyth County. He was an assistant coach at Lambert High School this past season. He’s done personal training, and several of his clients have been Pinecrest families.

So when former Pinecrest football coach Todd Winter resigned last week after five seasons, Paladins athletic director Chris Kane soon got a text from a school parent.

“Do you know who Terance Mathis is?” Kane said it read.

“Yeah,” he replied, “the NFL guy, the wide receiver.”

“He wants to be our head coach,” the parent said.

“Huh?” Kane said. “What? Give him our number.”

And so ensued a swift interview process.

“On Thursday, I was star struck,” Kane said. “On Friday, I was Pinecrest’s athletic director trying to figure out if he was right for our kids.

“I was very impressed.”

Mathis impressed the rest of Pinecrest’s administration, too, with his vision for the program and enthusiasm to be a part of the school’s community.

“He knows what we’re about,” Kane said. “This wasn’t some shot in the dark. He wanted to be a part of the community.”

Pinecrest was so impressed, it eschewed the standard, drawn-out process for filling a football head coaching position.

“Everything was natural. It just felt right,” Kane said. “We put a lot of faith in God around here. He had our backs.”

Mathis will take over a Paladins football program that made significant gains the past three seasons under Winter, peaking in 2015 at 10-2 with a region championship and run to the quarterfinals of the Class 1A private school playoffs, both firsts for the program since joining the Georgia High School Association.

Mathis will inherit a roster that loses some star power, particularly with the graduation of record-setting quarterback and all-state linebacker Ryan McCarthy (Citadel).

But the Paladins also return a healthy dose of experience in all-region players Brooks Binkley, Stone Brown, Michael Birozes, Nolan Stafford, Hunter Hawk and others.

That should help Mathis fulfill his overall goal for the Pinecrest program, one that fit well with Kane and the Paladins.

“He said, ‘I want to make sure these kids have fun playing football,’” Kane said. “’I want to win games, don’t get me wrong. But I want to make sure they have fun.’”