Riverside Military Academy amed Gary Downs as its new head football coach Monday. Downs began his high school coaching career at Riverside in 2003 when he served as running back coach.
From 2004-2006 Downs also served as offensive coordinator for Riverside, helping the Eagles win the 2005 GISA state championship and reach the semifinals three times.
Downs will take over for interim coach Sheldon Ward, who assumed head coaching duties after Chris Cotter resigned early in the season. The Eagles finished 1-9 last fall.
Downs has coached both football and track for the past nine years including a brief stint as an Atlanta Falcons' coaching intern and one season as running back coach with the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe. For the past five years, he has been the offensive coordinator and head coach of track & field at Mount Pisgah Christian School.
Downs played prep football at Spencer High School and earned All-ACC honors as a running back at North Carolina State in 1993. He finished 3rd all-time in rushing touchdowns and 10th in rushing yardage for the Wolfpack and was drafted in the third round by the New York Giants in 1994. He was a special teams leader for the Falcons during their 1998 NFC Championship season. He retired from the NFL in 2001 after seven seasons with three teams.