GAC's Cokely steps down as head football coach

Greater Atlanta Christian is in the market for a new head football coach after Tim Cokely announced his resignation Tuesday.

Cokely accepted the head coaching position at Marianna (Fla.) High School, ending a successful two-year run as the Spartans' coach. He notified his players of the decision Tuesday morning and the rest of the GAC community was alerted of the news Tuesday afternoon.

He went 17-5 in two seasons with the Spartans, who have begun a search already for his replacement.

It's a return to Florida for Cokely, who spent a good portion of his coaching career at Tallahassee's North Florida Christian.

He said the move was best for him and his family, and one of the draws is bringing them closer to family. The coach's son attends Florida State and his mother-in-law lives in Tallahassee.

"(Leaving GAC) was not something I was thinking about, but it was something I've been praying about," said Cokely, who won his 100th game as a head coach against Marianna. "I was making sure I'm not just looking for something bigger and better and that inside, it's God's will for my life and something that's right for me and my family."

The timing of the move worked well, Cokely said, with his son graduating this year from GAC. His daughter, a GAC freshman, also approved of returning to Florida.

"She's been an inspiration to me," Cokely said of his daughter. "A lot of times kids get taken out of their environment and view it as a negative. But she viewed it as, 'Dad, I have friends in all kinds of places.'"

A Fullerton, Calif., native, Cokely came to GAC with a successful background that included five state championships at North Florida Christian from 1996-2001 and a sixth when he returned there after coaching at Colquitt County for three seasons.

He inherited a GAC program that went 5-16 in 2008-09, including a 1-9 mark with a young team in 2009. His first GAC team went 9-3 and made the state playoffs, and his 2011 squad was 8-2, narrowly missing the playoffs with a loss in the region play-in game.

"The programs we've built in the past, it isn't about me, it's about the program," Cokely said. "We try to build them fundamentally correct and spiritually sound. If you build programs with a solid foundation, they remain successful. That's my wish, my desire -- for the same thing to happen for GAC."

GAC is currently accepting applications for the head football opening.

"While Tim's tenure at GAC has been brief, he has invested much in our school, students, families, and football program," GAC principal Scott Harsh said. "Under his leadership our team has gone 17-5 over the last two seasons. We have appreciated Tim's strong work ethic, discipline, and commitment to developing our program."