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North Hall promotes Bishop to head football coach

Longtime assistant served as offensive coordinator under Christmas

POSTED: February 10, 2014 9:45 p.m.

North Hall had a big decision to make in choosing who would replace former head football coach Bob Christmas.

It turns out the ideal candidate was on the Trojans’ sideline all along, and for more than a decade.

North Hall has promoted longtime offensive coordinator David Bishop to head coach, Principal Joe Gheesling announced on Monday. Bishop takes over the Trojans’ program after 18 years as an assistant under Christmas, including 13 at North Hall.

“The support that I’ve had over the last few weeks in the community has just been humbling,” Bishop said. “To have it (announced) today was kind of a relief to get this behind and get our kids focused on what they need to do, and look forward to next season.”

Christmas announced on Jan. 22 his decision to retire from the Hall County school system following the current academic school year and take a position in Virginia, where he previously coached and lived.

Bishop, who was named the Trojans’ interim head coach following Christmas’ resignation, led the offense of a program that made the first of its nine state playoff appearances under Christmas in 2002. North Hall has gone 106-47 since his arrival with Christmas in 2001, winning four region titles while also making two state semifinal appearances.

Before coming to North Hall, Bishop spent four years as an assistant under Christmas in South Georgia at Bainbridge High. In Virginia, Bishop coached one year at Jefferson Forest High, where Christmas will return as coach in 2014, and four years at Altavista High.

Prior to Bishop’s arrival at North Hall with Christmas in 2001, the Trojans had never won a playoff game and had only made the postseason once.

“We drove up here together, and I remember driving from the middle school on the back way in,” Bishop said. “I just remembered looking at him and saying, ‘Are you serious?’

“At the first day of practice as a receivers coach, you had nobody that could catch a football. I can remember our first practice, and the kids said, ‘Man, that was greatest practice we’ve ever had.’ All we did was go over formations, huddle drills and how to line up.”

Bishop takes over the program as it prepares to make a move to Class AAAA, where North Hall competed during his first year with the school in 2001. As a new member of Region 8-AAAA, the Trojans’ 2014 opponents will include six other playoff teams from last season, including Class AAA state champion Buford, Chestatee, White County, North Oconee and Monroe Area.

As a result, his first year as head coach features what might be one of North Hall’s toughest schedules to date.

He’ll only have one returning starter to work with, too.

“That’s more exciting to me than anything else now,” Bishop said. “We’re not going to change what got us here. The kids are excited and they had a lot of questions, but at least we knew that nothing is going to change, which is good.”

Also serving as a running backs coach, Bishop has sent multiple North Hall standout rushers to the collegiate level, including Imani Cross (Nebraska), T.J. Pitts (Memphis) and Hunter Wolf (Northeastern Oklahoma State via Northwoods University).

Andrew Smith, the Trojans’ dual-threat quarterback in 2013, recently signed with Air Force.

There were plenty of accomplishments that made it easy for Christmas to recommend Bishop to be his successor.

“He had my strong endorsement from the beginning, and I let it be known that it would be my recommendation,” Christmas said. “The fact that they did take that into consideration, I’m grateful for that.”

Christmas said it was important that North Hall hired a coach that kept the program consistent with procedures of the past decade, instead of starting from scratch with a completely new system.

With the Trojans finding so much success under Bishop’s run-based offenses in Wing-T and Wishbone formations, there will likely be few changes to their offense in 2014.

“He has seen the workings of North Hall football,” Christmas said. “I think every program is unique, and having been here from the beginning in the building process, I think it uniquely qualifies him to take over.”

Bishop will travel to Portugal next Wednesday for a Fellowship of Christian Athletes mission trip. He’ll begin early preparation for the 2014 season upon his return, including offseason leadership training and scheme studies.

 


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