Josh Kemp says he didn't have time to keep up with what was going at Chattahoochee County High after he left in 2009. If he had taken a look, he would have seen a program that was struggling.
Since Kemp left after the 2009 season, the Panthers have suffered through four straight losing seasons, going 11-29. The last three were 7-23 under Russell Morgan, who departed after the end of last season.
It didn't take long for Chattahoochee County administrators to call Kemp to see if he was interested in returning to the program he helped start in 2006.
Kemp was re-hired by Chattahoochee County in February, but he finished out the school year at Schley County. He returned to the Cusseta school full time only recently.
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"The administration is basically the same," Kemp said. "(I know) a lot of the current players. I coached their brothers.
"But there have been a lot of improvements to the athletic department. We have a first-class weight room now and a new field house. And now we are in Class AA."
Just a decade ago, there was no Chattahoochee County football program, not even a Chattahoochee County High. Most of the county's children went to Spencer High.
Kemp coached a junior varsity football team in 2005 as the school welcomed
only freshmen and sophomores. The school added juniors in 2006, when the varsity team took the field for the first time.
Over the next four seasons, Kemp coached a high-powered offense, and the Panthers went 28-16.
They made the state playoffs each season and advanced to the second round in 2009.
But Kemp left after that season to return to school. At the same time, a position for an assistant coach came open on the Carver staff. He remained there for two years. Then he was hired as a head coach at Schley County, where he spent the last two seasons going 4-16.
"I am a much better coach now than I was when I left," Kemp said.
"I learned a great deal under Dell McGee (at Carver). He is one of my best friends and a mentor.
"I don't look back on leaving with any regrets. Everything happens for a reason."
Kemp has brought in four new assistants, two he coached with at Carver. Eric Allen will be the offensive coordinator, and Curtis Simpson will be the wide receiver's coach. Frank Saunders will be the defensive line coach, while Scott Colter will be the offensive line coach.
Kemp hopes to add another assistant soon.
"Everyone has been great since I came back," kemp said. "We are still in that honeymoon phase. We'll see what happens after we play a couple of games."
Chattahoochee County did not go through spring practice, so the Panthers will play two scrimmage games this fall. They will go to Stratford Academy on Aug. 15 and host Twiggs County on Aug. 22.
The Panthers open the regular season at home against Hardaway on Aug. 29.