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Montgomery up for challenge in building Shiloh program

Photo: David McGregor. Shiloh Head Coach Brian Montgomery talks with assistant coaches and players during a 7-on-7 passing league game this summer at GAC.

Photo: David McGregor. Shiloh Head Coach Brian Montgomery talks with assistant coaches and players during a 7-on-7 passing league game this summer at GAC.

Brian Montgomery knew it wouldn't be easy when he took over as head coach of Shiloh's football program.

The Generals haven't had a winning season in seven years, but it was a challenge Montgomery embraced.

"Any situation is a challenge. I don't know if it's any larger than the previous one," Montgomery said. "North Atlanta only had two winning seasons in its history and one of them was my last year there."

Montgomery has a knack for taking programs out of the dumps. Prior to taking the Shiloh job in February, Montgomery took North Atlanta from a traditional doormat to a 7-3 record last year. It was the second winning season in the school's 20-year history.

He did the same at his previous stop in Selma, Ala. The Saints were 1-9 the year prior to Montgomery's arrival and lost by an average of 30 points a game, including a 50-0 defeat to state power Prattville. By the time Montgomery left four years later, he had the team to a respectable 5-5 record, ending a five-year run of losing seasons. The Saints lost two games by eight points or less and the 21 points scored against Prattville, which won state that year, was the most by any team.

"I don't want to go to a program that has nine or 10 wins," Montgomery said. "I want to go to programs and make an impact. We can rebuild it and make it better."

Montgomery will get that chance this fall at Shiloh. The Generals are coming off a 1-9 record and have had little stability at the head coaching position. Montgomery is the fifth head coach in 10 years. His two predecessors -- Keith Wilkes and Nick Davis -- could never win more than four games in a season, so the standards are low for a program that has only had two winning seasons since 2000.

"When a team is coming off a 1-9 season, it's always tough," Montgomery said.

Despite the dismal past, Montgomery has been able to pump some life into the program. He had 122 players out for spring practice, which is nearly 100 more than last year. This summer he routinely has 70-80 players participating in summer workouts.

The team has scrapped the wing-T offense and will go to a pro-style offense this season. The Generals have been a fixture at passing leagues around the area. They hosted the Mel Kiper Jr. tournament in June and have been going to the Gwinnett County Passing League on Tuesdays and a passing league at Stephenson on Wednesdays.

"The kids are getting faster, stronger and more confident," Montgomery said. "But you don't know what's what until you put on the pads."

One of Montgomery's biggest challenges has been building a coaching staff. There's limited teaching spots, so he's struggled to find coaches. He hopes to have a staff of 14 by the end of the summer.

"The hardest part of building a program is getting a coaching staff," Montgomery said. "It doesn't matter whether you have five, 10, 15, 50 or 100 kids. We have to have someone coach them."

Then there's the competitive side of taking over the Generals. Shiloh, which has one of the lowest enrollments in Class AAAAA, competes in Region 8-AAAAA. The region is considered one of the toughest in the state and produced last year's state champion Brookwood.

"Our biggest challenge is dealing with the quote on quote powerhouses in Gwinnett County," Montgomery said. "This is the toughest region in the state."

It could be a few years before Shiloh begins to see any change, but if Montgomery's last two stops are any indication then Shiloh has the right coach in place.

"It's just hard work and dedication," Montgomery said. "I'm very excited about being at Shiloh."