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Westminster Christian hires new football coach, prepares for 11-man football
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Click to listen to Westminster Christian School athletic director Danny McGill talk about the hiring of former Collins Hill assistant football coach David Stephens and the Wildcats' transition to 11-man football.
As Westminster Christian School prepares to change its name and move to a new facility, it’s also making some changes to its football program.

The school has hired former Collins Hill High assistant coach David Stephens as head coach for its developing football program, which is looking to move from eight-man to 11-man football.

The Wildcats currently play eight-man football in the Independent Christian Schools of Georgia and Alabama. They will continue to play eight-man in the ICSGA this fall before moving to 11-man football in 2009.

"This is a big step for our football program and our school," Westminster athletic director Danny McGill said. "All school sports are exciting, but football is usually a school’s most exciting sport and it builds community spirit."

Before coaching at Collins Hill, Stephens, a Gainesville resident, coached at North Hall, East Hall, Jefferson, North Forsyth and Banks County, along with a head coaching stint at Lumpkin County in 1995.

"I’m very excited about building a football program and getting to coach closer to home," Stephens said. "I know more about 11-man football than eight-man, but I won’t have a 40-mile drive to work anymore."

The coaching change is only one of Westminster’s recent announcements. On July 1, the school officially becomes North Georgia Christian School and changes its mascot from the Wildcats to the Chargers.

With the school still lacking a large enrollment, the football program needs more players before a possible move up to the Georgia Independent Schools Association.

"We would like to move up to GISA, but I feel our growth is imminent," McGill said. "It’s too early to put a number on players just yet."

But the opportunity for Westminster to have 11 players on the field has been exciting enough for the new coach and the players, who are just finishing spring practice.

"It’s the coach’s goal and the goal for the school to continue building a program," McGill said. "We have strong emphasis on Christ in our sports programs, and we feel coach Stephens is the type of Christian man that can do that."

The transition from a Class AAAAA school to an independent Christian school will be an adjustment for Stephens, but the new coach is looking forward to it.

"I’m very excited about building a football program at Westminster," Stephens said. "I’m used to having 150 players on my team at Collins Hill, but with a smaller school I’ll be able to get to know all my players."

In 2009, when the then Chargers plan to compete in 11-man football for the first time, the school will also undergo another change. Also that year, the middle and high school will move out of Westminster Presbyterian Church on Thompson Bridge Road and into a new facility, which will be located on Poplar Springs Road, 12 miles south of Gainesville in Oakwood.