Callahan still in the running for Ga. job

Published January 19, 2006

SEFFNER - When mentioned in December as a possible candidate to become the next football coach at Georgia's storied Valdosta High, Armwood's Sean Callahan said he had no interest in leaving.

But now, things have changed.

Callahan will be in Valdosta today for a second round of interviews and said Wednesday he is leaning toward taking the job if it is offered.

"I'm pretty close to having my mind made up," Callahan said.

Efforts to reach Valdosta principal Brett Stanton and athletic director Warren Weeks were unsuccessful, but Callahan, who guided Armwood to consecutive Class 4A titles in 2003 and '04 and reached the final last month, said he is one of three finalists. The Valdosta Daily Times reported the school hopes to hire a coach by Monday.

"It's flattering to be considered," Callahan said. "I'm looking forward to it."

Callahan, 47, is 119-64 in 16 seasons at Armwood. Valdosta, arguably the country's top program of the 20th century, owns 23 state titles. The position opened when Rick Darlington stepped down in November after going 26-14 in three seasons.

A 2004 Atlanta Journal-Constitution story said Darlington earned about $90,000 a year. Callahan makes about $55,000 annually at Armwood, where he teaches weights and conditioning. At Valdosta, he would not have to teach.

"I'd be called the director of football operations," Callahan said. "I'd be running football in the city of Valdosta from the middle school up and I would be responsible for creating my feeder program."

Callahan has called what he describes as Armwood's lack of suitable facilities (notably an undersized weightroom and a locker room that lacks air conditioning) as a major factor in his final decision. He said Wednesday progress has been made in that area, but declined to elaborate.

"We all feel in our heart Coach Cal won't leave us," Hawks quarterback Justin Hickman said. "Right now, we're just trying to be positive."