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Coaching legend returns to lead Jefferson
Thomas “T” McFerrin, left, talks with Jefferson Board of Education chairman Ronnie Hopkins after being named named the new head football coach at Jefferson High on Tuesday. - photo by By Brandee Thomas

It took an old friend to do it, but Georgia high school coaching icon Thomas "T" McFerrin has been pulled back into the profession after a four-year absence from the sidelines.

McFerrin has been named Jefferson High School's new football coach after answering a call from Jefferson City Schools superintendent John Jackson, who originally hired McFerrin at Elbert County High School in 1990.

McFerrin replaces Bill Navas who recently announced his resignation.

The hiring, which was unanimously approved Tuesday afternoon at a meeting of the Jefferson City Schools board of education, drew a standing-room-only crowd, including Jefferson city officials.

"Without a doubt, (McFerrin) is one of the most accomplished coaches in Georgia history," Jackson said. "It has been my good fortune to work with T. McFerrin and it is an honor to recommend him for this position."

While at Elbert County, McFerrin led the team to the 1995 Class AA state championship. He's also taken teams to 11 region championships, nine undefeated regular season and three state title games.

"I became acquainted with Dr. Jackson in 1990 when he hired me as the football coach in Elbert County, and we became very close and have remained very close," McFerrin said. "I have a very special feeling about Dr. Jackson because he gives people the opportunity to be successful.

"Success starts at the top."

McFerrin should know. He sports a career record of 301-93-48, retiring in 2004 at the end of a seven-year stint at South Gwinnett. During his time there, he coached future UGA quarterback David Greene and led the program to five playoff berths.

His teams have finished with a losing record just twice in his 30 seasons as a head coach in Georgia, according to the Georgia High School Football Historian's Association.

"I retired after the 2004 season," McFerrin said. "But I have continued to be involved in football with coaching clinics, seminars and I still attend Friday night games."

At Jefferson, McFerrin inherits a team fresh off its first region championship in 31 years.

Navas spent seven years at the helm of the Dragons before leaving to accept the athletics director position at Duluth High School. His teams reached the playoffs six straight seasons in Region 8-A, then won Region 8-AA in 2008 after moving up in classification.

Jackson took the time to thank Navas at Tuesday's meeting.

"He's been with us for seven years and brought stability and much success to our program," Jackson said. "And it all culminated (in 2008) with an undefeated season and a region championship."

Navas won't leave the cupboard bare for his successor.

At quarterback, McFerrin figures to have one of the area's most dynamic playmakers in Darius Minor. In his first year as a starter last year, Minor passed for 1,914 yards and 26 touchdowns while rushing for another 890 yards and nine scores.

Linebacker Kyle Mosely will lead the defense after recording 110 tackles as a sophomore last year, and all-around athlete Lucas Redd can play a variety of positions, including wide receiver and linebacker where he had 104 tackles last fall. 

However, the Dragons will have holes to fill after the graduation of 17 seniors, including key starters on both sides of the ball.

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