Benji Harrison, the former offensive coordinator at Flowery Branch High, was named the new head football coach at Jackson County High on Monday morning.
The decision was made after a one-hour executive session convened Monday by the Jackson County Board of Education. Superintendent Dr. Shannon Adams approved Harrison as a teacher and head football coach.
Harrison will become the 11th head coach in the 31-year history of the program and replaces Billy Kirk, who resigned in late November after five seasons with the Panthers.
While his contract will begin in July, principal Scott Smith said Harrison may be seen around the campus as soon as Tuesday.
“I look for him to be on campus after school building relationships with players, their parents and the community,” Smith said.
Smith said the selection process was designed to find the best coaches and teachers, and he says he is pleased with Harrison, whom he describes as “the total package.”
At Flowery Branch, Harrison has been teaching Honors Social Studies. Since 2008, he has taught ninth grade World History, junior and senior government/Economics/Individual Law and 10th grade U.S. History.
Harrison was recommended from 50 applicants. Six were interviewed and fielded a series of 30 questions which helped determine which candidate would be best suited for the job. A list of expectations was developed to include attributes for the next coach, including excellent skills as an educator and the ability to build community both inside and outside the school with interpersonal and communication skills.
Harrison was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the 2011 Falcons, who advanced to the state quarterfinals last season on the strength of one of the state’s highest-scoring offenses at 44 points per game.
From 2008-2010, Harrison served as an assistant offensive coach primarily responsible for quarterbacks while assisting with offensive planning and play calling. Flowery Branch went a combined 32-7 in that three-year span and reached the state playoffs all three seasons, including finishing as the state runner-up in 2008 and making the state semifinals in 2009.
Before coming to Flowery Branch, Harrison was the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach as well as quarterbacks coach at Franklin County High from 2002-07.
He served as the quarterbacks coach for Elbert County High in 2000-01, coaching back-to-back state playoff teams.
A graduate of Stephens County High, Harrison, a quarterback, was a four-year letterman at Presbyterian College.
He earned his undergraduate degree from Presbyterian College in 2000 and earned a Master’s in Health Promotion from the University of Alabama in 2004.