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Four-year Gainesville High football coach Heath Webb steps down Wednesday to 'put family first'
Heath Webb
Gainesville High coach Heath Webb prepares for kickoff against Flowery Branch on Sept. 10, 2021 at City Park Stadium. The No. 53 pin is to honor his former player from North Paulding, Zachary Williamson, who died in a car accident. Photo by Bill Murphy

Heath Webb, the Gainesville High football coach for the last four years, has stepped down from his position. 

The announcement was made public Wednesday in a press release from Red Elephants athletics director Adam Lindsey, who learned of Webb's decision on Tuesday.  

Webb informed his players of the decision Wednesday during what he said was an emotional gathering. 

This is a decision Webb said he'd been pondering for 'a few months.'

Webb stated the decision was not football related. He said he felt it was time to step back and spend more time with his wife, Jesi, and their three children. 

"For 20 years, I've dragged my family all over the state, while I chased my dreams," Webb said. "Now, I need to do the right thing for them and put them first."

Once the team meeting was completed with Webb breaking the news, he said it was met with lots of hugs from the players who he led on the field since 2018.

"I told them, 'as men, you have to make tough choices and when you do, always make sure to put your family first,'" Webb said.

Webb said he will remain on staff at Gainesville High for the remainder of the school year. 

"I don't know what the future holds for me yet," Webb said. 

Webb said that one of his most meaningful accomplishments as Gainesville's coach was developing a mentoring program, pairing players with men in the community. 

He was greatly assisted in this endeavor by his own confidant Phil Brown, a member of the Gainesville community. 

"When I got here, one of the needs I saw was players who needed role models and great men in their lives," Webb said. "I feel like that's made these guys better young men."

"We're very appreciative of all the hard work coach Webb has poured into this program for the past four years," Lindsey said. "He certainly left it better than he found it."

In his four years, Webb had an 18-25 record at Gainesville with three trips to the postseason. 

In 2021, Gainesville missed the postseason for the first time since 1999, posting a 5-5 overall mark. 

"Coach Webb is a great man," Red Elephants senior defensive lineman Khaliq Maddox said. "He always treated us all like family. Whatever he chooses to do, I wish him and his family nothing but the best."

Lindsey added that the search for a new coach would begin immediately. In 2022, Gainesville will begin playing in Class 6A, a step down from where's it's been the past two seasons in the state's highest classification. 

Next season, Gainesville's region opponents will include Habersham Central, Apalachee, Winder-Barrow, Shiloh and Lanier. In 2022, Gainesville is also expected to return some tremendous playmakers, including quarterback Baxter Wright, running back Naim Cheeks and wide receiver Ellis Pitts, among others.

Also, Gainesville is currently constructing a state-of-the-art Student Athletic Center that will house the football program. 

"Whoever the next coach is at Gainesville is walking into a great situation," Webb said. "They've got the best facilities in the state and will be playing in a favorable region."

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