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Banks County names new football coach
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According to the parties involved, there could hardly be a better match than Banks County High School and its new football coach, Phillip Jones.

Jones was approved for the position by a unanimous vote of the Banks County school board Monday night, based on the recommendation of principal Art Wheaton.

It will be the first head coaching position for Jones, the brother of Lumpkin County coach Tommy Jones. He most recently served as the offensive coordinator at Ware County High. He was chosen from a large field of applicants, including nine others who were brought in for interviews, Wheaton said.

"We had a committee of coaches who conducted all the interviews and we had some very strong applicants," Wheaton said. "(Jones) was the one who excited us the most about what he could bring bring to our students and our program."

Jones takes over for Blair Armstrong, who left to take the head position at North Forsyth High. Armstrong was 19-22 in four years with the Leopards, and in 2008 led the team to its only playoff berth since 1997. Banks County finished 7-3 last season.

"What (Banks County) was looking for and what I was looking for was the same thing, and that's stability," said Jones, a father of three young daughters. "They want a stable tradition of not just success on the field, but doing things the right way.

"And it's a great place to raise my family. I'm looking forward to putting down some roots."

Jones said he leaned on his older brother, who has been at Lumpkin County since 2006, for advice and insight during the application process.

"Tommy doesn't plan on going anywhere any time soon," Phillip Jones said. "He's extremely happy where he is and he loves the community there, and that's what I want. He and I are extremely close, and he's been there every step of the way for me."

Jones is a 1997 graduate of Brookwood. He helped the team win the Class AAAA state championship as an offensive lineman before playing in college as a center at the University of South Carolina.

At Ware County, Jones said his teams played a run-first style of offense based mostly out of the I-formation, "but we moved more toward spreading it out a little bit last year.

"I would say we'll probably be a run-first, play-action style of offense," he said, "but at any new place you want to get there and evaluate the personnel, and that's what we'll do at Banks County."

Ware County finished 10-3 last season, advancing to the Class AAAA quarterfinals before falling to Tucker.

Jones will get his first look at the returning Leopard talent soon. He'll be spending much of his spring break around campus next week, then will begin his first day on the job on April 11. He hopes to begin spring practice on May 2.

The athletic director position Armstrong also held remains unfilled. Jones said he was offered the football coaching job and told that the athletic director will be named later.

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