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Wells leaving Eagles

Billy Wells and Kerensa Wing, longtime colleagues at Collins Hill, will continue working together -- at a new place.

Wells informed his Collins Hill football players Monday morning that he had resigned as their coach, the final hurdle in Wells being named the new head football coach and athletic and activities director at Lanier, which is set to open in August.

He will work with Wing, the new high school's first principal.

"Being at Collins Hill, our kids worked extremely hard the past few years and our parental support has been great," said Wells, who led the Eagles to a 16-6 mark and two state playoff berths in two seasons as head coach. "For me, the attraction to Lanier was two-fold. The athletic director position was tied into the football position and the leadership position ended up being too hard to pass up. It's a great place to expand my leadership skills."

Wing, a former basketball coach at Collins Hill, had been a longtime assistant principal at the Suwanee school, so she had a good relationship with Wells long before the late January interview process.

Wells, a Shiloh grad, worked for 10 seasons as a Collins Hill assistant under both Alan Fahring and Larry Sherrill before being named head coach prior to the 2008 season.

"With all the applicants and the staffing plan I had at my school, (Wells) was definitely the best fit for our community," Wing said. "He's got a lot of experience in community building."

The challenge for both Wing and Wells is filling out an athletic department in a unique situation. The school's enrollment will be small for the 2010-11 school year, with an estimated 850 to 900 confirmed students, and roughly 80 to 90 percent of the faculty will come from North Gwinnett, whose students will form Lanier's first student body.

Wing has to fill the right teaching positions as well as finding enough coaches to work with all of Lanier's teams, though there won't be many positions open for any teachers outside of North.

"I'm real excited about (getting coaches from North)," Wells said. "I know Dr. (John) Green and Mr. (Ed) Shaddix have hired great people (at North) over the years. I'm sure we'll get some excellent people."

The football coaching role will be unique for Wells, too. Rather than taking over an established program like Collins Hill, he must build his own program from Day 1.

The Longhorns' first football schedule will feature one varsity opponent in Mountain View, surrounded by a slate of junior varsity teams.

"I'm excited about that, starting football from scratch, putting together the policies and procedures for your football program," Wells said. "You're starting everything new. It's a unique time in the school's history at the beginning. You have an opportunity to do some special things."

One of those opportunities came Monday night when Wells met with the Lanier community to discuss Longhorn logos and color choices.

It ended a crazy day that began with an emotional meeting with his Collins Hill players.

"That was the bittersweet part of it," Wells said.