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Cottrell named Lakeview boys basketball coach
New Lions coach guided Gainesville to state title game this season
Gainesville High basketball coach Todd Cottrell speaks with Deshaun Watson during a break in the action at Kennesaw State University during the Red Elephants state semifinals win over Effingham County in March. Cottrell was named basketball coach at Lakeview Academy on Thursday.

A 3 1/2-mile move between campuses across town has Todd Cottrell back in a familiar role: filling the shoes of a legend.

The Gainesville head boys basketball coach was officially hired for the same position at Lakeview Academy on Thursday, replacing longtime Hall County coach and 745-game winner Seth Vining.

Five years ago, he was playing a very similar role. Cottrell took on the pressure of being the new coach at Gainesville following the retirement of his predecessor Jerry Davis, who coached the Red Elephants for 28 years and also won over 700 games in his career.

“You never replace coach Davis or coach Vining,” Cottrell said. “I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to continue to do what coach Vining has got going, and we’ll do our best to try and keep building.”

Cottrell came to an agreement with Lakeview on Monday, and notified Gainesville players of his departure the same day.

After joining the Gainesville staff in 2008, Cottrell led the Red Elephants to a winning a record every season he was in charge, including three state playoff appearances. His final year at Gainesville was his best, compiling a 23-10 record and a Class AAAAA state finals appearance.

He turned the Red Elephants from a 1-6 team missing several key starters to football early in the season to a Region 8-AAAAA champion and state runner-up after his team enjoyed a 15-game winning streak that lasted over a month.

“It was a tremendous experience, and I’m very blessed to have been part of some of the things those kids accomplished over the five years,” Cottrell said. “It was a great place to coach basketball.

“This is a different opportunity that doesn’t come around very often. It was one I wanted to pursue, and I look forward to the challenge.”

Cottrell will attempt to continue nearly a decade of success Lakeview Academy has enjoyed under Vining, who retired following the conclusion of 2012-2013 season. One of Hall County’s winningest coaches, Vining spent eight years with Lions and posted a winning record every year.

Lakeview was 18-8 last season, clinching a spot in the Class A state playoffs.

“This adaptability of sharing athletes is a perfect fit for Lakeview Academy” Lakeview athletic director Deuce Roark said. “Many to most of our athletes play more than one sport and participate in fine arts productions as well.

Having a coach who understands this philosophy will certainly help our students maximize their athletic and academic opportunities at Lakeview.”

Prior to his tenure at Gainesville, Cottrell coached at Flowery Branch, White County and Southeast Whitfield. He led the Falcons to a 26-4 record, a Region 7-AAA title and a Class AAA state quarterfinals appearance during the 2007-2008 season. Flowery Branch had won just four games the previous season.

While at White County, Cottrell led the Warriors to four state playoff appearances in six years. He also secured a state playoff spot in his only season at Southeast Whitfield.