Former Atlanta Falcon Kevin Shaffer is the new head football coach at Hebron Christian Academy.
The Dacula private school announced the promotion of Shaffer, who will replace Sal Battaglia, on Friday.
"Kevin Shaffer is an outstanding Christian coach who will surround himself with the right staff and will set high expectations for the players," Hebron athletic director Bryan Bartley said in a press release. "In terms of Hebron's future football outlook, I believe the best is yet to come."
The departure of Battaglia came as a surprise to the former coach, who found out on Tuesday he would not be the head coach for the 2013 season.
"I had no idea. It was an unexpected surprise," Battaglia said of his dismissal. "I thought we had the program in the right direction. They said they wanted to move in a different direction."
Battaglia was 5-15 in his two years at the school. The team went 1-9 last year during its first season of region play. The six-year-old program played mostly freshmen and sophomores last season.
"It took me by surprise, but it's the nature of the beast in coaching," Battaglia said. "I love those kids like my sons."
Hebron returns 16 starters this season and Battaglia is optimistic the team will be much improved after playing a tough region that produced five of the seven playoff teams and three in the semifinals.
"I feel bad because I wanted to be here for the boys and watch them compete," Battaglia said. "I think they are going to be competitive in the region this year."
Shaffer will be the fourth coach in seven years for Hebron. He spent the last two years as the offensive line coach at Hebron, so he's familiar with the program.
"My vision as head coach at Hebron Christian Academy is to dominate on the field and have fun together off the field, all while doing everything following Christ's example and putting Him at the forefront," Shaffer said.
Prior to joining the Hebron staff, Shaffer enjoyed a nine-year career in the NFL. He was an all-conference player at Tulsa before being drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in 2002. The Pittsburgh native played four years in Atlanta, three years with the Cleveland Browns and two years with the Chicago Bears.
"The hiring of Kevin Shaffer should send a strong signal throughout Lion Country that a time of special emphasis to improve our athletic program is underway," Hebron headmaster Tim Hillen said. "Our theme for next year, 'Good to great in God's eyes' is certainly appropriate and applicable to what our desires and expectations are for our athletic department. I believe Kevin is God's man at this time to move our football program steadily forward."
THE SHAFFER FILE
Name: Kevin Shaffer
New position: Head football coach at Hebron Christian Academy
Former position: Offensive line coach at Hebron Christian Academy
Education: Graduated from Conestoga Valley High School (Pa.) in 1998; attended the University of Tulsa
Playing/coaching experience: Three-year starter at Tulsa, earning All-WAC honors; was a national strength and conditioning All-American; voted offensive MVP senior in 2001; selected in the seventh round by the Atlanta Falcons in 2002, playing four years with the Falcons; also played three years for the Cleveland Browns and two with the Chicago Bears before retiring in 2010; spent two years as the offensive line coach at Hebron
Family: Wife Tara; children Ava, Austin, Alyssa