David Ward has owned a house in Lawrenceville for five years. Now he finally gets to stay in it.
The 52-year-old, who has spent the last three seasons at Mitchell County High near Albany, was announced Tuesday as Meadowcreek's new head football coach. He fills the spot vacated when Reggie Perry resigned prior to the 2008 season. Terrone Owens, the Mustangs' interim coach last year, was not retained as head coach.
"I like being back in my house," Ward said. "I've lived away for three to four years working and it will be nice to not be three and a half hours away from my wife (who works in the Atlanta area)."
Meadowcreek athletic director Jason Dopson said the school received more than 60 applications for the job, then used a panel of 12 people (including a few football players) to cut the finalists to three. Meadowcreek principal Bob Jackson made the final choice from that trio.
"(Ward's) definitely a player's coach," said Dopson, whose school begins spring practice Monday. "The kids love to play for him and he's very energetic."
Ward brings a wealth of experience, and not just in football. He went to high school in Fall River, Mass., before playing baseball and basketball at Rhode Island College. He also played in the semi-pro Eastern Football League.
But he didn't go directly into coaching, instead working eight years as a union iron worker. The trade required a three-year apprenticeship.
"I didn't get back into coaching until 1993," Ward said. "So this is like a second career for me."
Ward's coaching career has taken him to Nebraska, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Maryland, Virginia and most recently, Georgia. He had a 3-7 mark in 2006 at Mitchell-Baker, which became Mitchell County High in 2007. He was 4-6 that season but took the 2008 season off.
"Now I'm getting to the point where I don't want to move around anymore," Ward said. "I told Jason if I don't coach, I just want to stay there and be a math teacher."
Ward inherits a unique situation at Meadowcreek.
The Mustangs have endured more coaching shuffles than most schools in the area, going through seven head coaches since Tom Lozano stepped down in 1997. They haven't won more than one game in a season since 2001, including four straight 0-10 seasons from 2004 to 2007.
That built a county-record 43-game losing streak that was broken last season with a win over Duluth.
"It really comes down to building up depth," Ward said of his plans at Meadowcreek. "You've got to get enough guys to where you can get an injury and not fall off the face of the earth."
SideBar: The Ward File
· Name: David Ward
· New position: Head football coach at Meadowcreek
· Former position: Head football coach at Mitchell County
· Age: 52
· Education: Graduated from Bishop Connolly High School (Mass.) in 1974; graduated from Rhode Island College in 1978; has an associate degree in computer science, a master's degree in curriculum, administration and education and a specalist degree in math
· Background: Played baseball and basketball at Rhode Island College; played in the Eastern Football League; worked for eight years as a union iron worker before starting coaching career; has coached in seven states, including two college jobs; previously the head coach at Mitchell County for two years but didn't coach in 2008
· Family: Wife Rebecca