May 16, 2021

Former Brave named head football coach at Union Grove

(Franklin, GA) — A former Heard County Brave was recently hired as the next head football coach at Union Grove High School in McDonough, GA.

Casey Smith, a 1996 graduate of HCHS, will take over the Class AAAAA Wolverine program following an extensive career as an assistant coach at several area schools.

Casey Smith (Photo: Union Grove High School)

Smith has been coaching since the year 2000 when he was a middle school coach in the Alexander program at the same time current Brave head coach Tim Barron was the head man at Alexander High.

Smith’s first high school coaching experience came at Northgate High School.

He arrived at Northgate in 2001 and eventually worked his way up to the defensive coordinator position which he held from 2005-2009.

From Northgate he headed to nearby Sandy Creek from 2010-2013 where he served as an assistant for a Patriot squad that claimed state crowns in 2010 and 2012.

Following short stints at Temple, Bowdon, and Villa Rica, Smith returned to Sandy Creek in 2017 where he had been serving as defensive coordinator.

Casey is married to Whitney Cothran Smith, the daughter of Bobby Cothran and the late Leesa Stutts Cothran. Casey and Whitney have a 3-year-old son, Cannon.

Union Grove Athletic Director Allen Franklin says the school is excited about the addition of Smith.

”We opened it up right before Christmas and we had a lot of great candidates apply,” Franklin told The Henry Herald recently. “We put together interviews and we couldn’t be more excited about getting the caliber of coach like Coach Smith. Coach Frazier did a great of getting our program headed in the right direction and we think Smith will continue that.”

Smith was an outstanding athlete in his own right at Heard High in the mid 1990’s as a 4-year-starter on the varsity baseball team and a 3-year starter on the varsity football team. He served as a captain in both programs and started every game during his high school baseball career.

He says that is was as a student at HCHS that he first aspired to become a coach.

“I knew I wanted to coach when I was in the ninth grade. My baseball coach and defensive coordinator Derrick Quinn was a really big influence on my development,” says Smith. “Also, Eddie Payne (HCHS Head Football Coach at the time) was HUGE in my life then — and he still is today — they both are.”

Smith says the his vast experience in several different programs will be very beneficial as he take son his first head coaching job for a team that went 7-3 in Region 4-AAAAA last year, but narrowly missed the state playoffs.

“I have worked for head coaches who have won a collective 12 state championships in their respective careers. So, I strongly feel that I have learned a tremendous amount from all of those coaches, and have been extremely grateful to have worked for them,” Smith states.

“From my brief year hanging around some of the staff at Heard County (one title), to coaches like Ron Beaucham (one title); Bill Luckie (four titles); Chip Walker (three titles); and Brett Garvin (three titles) — basically, I am taking what I learned from all of them and adding it to what I know, and trying to implement a championship culture at Union Grove.”

Casey Smith with his wife, Whtiney and their son Cannon (Submitted photo)

Smith cites several friends and colleagues as strong influences in his coaching career.

“Eddie Payne, Derrick Quinn, Bill Luckie, Chip Walker, Brett Garvin, and Chad Frazier — all of these coaches have had a HUGE impact on the man and coach I am today,” says Smith.

“I can never thank them enough for their leadership, and I hope I can pay it forward to players that I coach. I am also grateful for the friendship that I have with Heard County’s athletic director Shane Lasseter, as he and I have spoken many times over the years and have offered each other advice on many coaching topics.”

Lasseter believes Smith is a great hire for the Union Grove program.

“I am so proud of Casey and his family. He has been a great friend for a long time and is very deserving of this opportunity,” says Lasseter. “Casey has a great mind for the game and for running a quality program and weight room. Everywhere he has been has got better and I know he will make Union Grove better. I wish him all the best.”

Casey Smith adds that he and his family are very thankful for the community support here in Heard County over the years.

“Whitney and I want to thank EVERYONE in Heard County who have supported us along the way. We have had a rough couple years with several close family members passing on, but Whitney and both knew we had the support of many family members and close friends from Franklin and Heard County to help us get through some of our hardest times,” Smith says.

“Heard County will always have a special place in our hearts, and we will only be an hour or so away!”


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