Tift Schools updates football coach search

Jan. 25—TIFTON — Tift County Schools gave an update on the search for a new head football coach.

Wednesday, on several social media accounts, TCS outlined the next steps for Noel Dean's replacement. At the moment, Tift Schools said it was conducting "feedback sessions with players, parents and community stakeholders." The system is in talks with potential candidates.

From there, a committee will interview coaching candidates. Tift County Schools said these will happen next week. Superintendent Natalie Gore will interview the "top candidates" out of those sessions.

Gore will make her recommendation to the Board of Education.

Tift Schools seem to be targeting the next board meeting — Feb. 8 — for this coaching recommendation. If none is ready at that date, "a special called meeting could be held," TCS stated on Instagram.

Dean announced his intention to resign Sept. 25, 2023, remaining head coach for the rest of the season. He announced then he would remain in the school system for the remainder of the 2023-24 school year. However, on Jan. 25, Chelsea, Michigan, announced Dean had been hired as their next head coach. Chelsea is only a few miles from Ann Arbor.

A Michigan native with two state championships in the Wolverine State, Dean posted a 9-22 record in three seasons with the Tift County Blue Devils. Dean's first team, in 2021, advanced to the state tournament as a No. 3 seed and went 6-5 overall.

The 2022 squad went 1-9, doubling that in 2023 to 2-8. Last year's team went 1-4 in Region 1-6A. Tift's region win — over Veterans — was its first road victory since 2020.

Tift County last won a state tournament game in 2018, the last of back-to-back quarterfinals appearances under Ashley Anders.

Next season has changes in store for the Devils, most notably a new region. While the label will still be Region 1-6A for 2024-26, Tift will again be in the Georgia High School Association's classification for its biggest schools. Region 1-7A is being eliminated and Tift has Camden County, Colquitt County, Lowndes, Richmond Hill and Valdosta as region opponents next year.

The region schedule has already been set for 2024, as confirmed by athletic director Chris Martin. The Blue Devils are in talks with other schools to fill out their non-region schedule.