ALBANY -- Many have applied, but only four remain.
The Dougherty County School Board has narrowed the head varsity football coaching search for Dougherty and Albany high schools down to four candidates -- that's four total between the two jobs -- and are currently conducting its final rounds of interviews and expect to make an announcement soon, according to R.D. Harter, director of public information for the Dougherty County School System, who spoke exclusively to The Herald on Thursday afternoon.
The candidates and their qualifications, according to their re'sume's -- and listed in no particular order -- include:
JOHNNY GILBERT: Gilbert is the only candidate with any local ties to Southwest Georgia, having served as assistant at Monroe from 1996-98 before leaving to become the head coach at Class AAA Ronald McNair High School in Atlanta from 1999-2005, winning multiple region titles. At McNair, he went 38-9 in six seasons. However, for the last four years, he has worked as an assistant at GISA Class A Strong Rock Christian in Locust Grove.
GREGORY MANIOR: Manior was the head coach up until this past season at Class AAAA South Effingham High School in Springfield, as well as the offensive coordinator -- both positions he'd held since 2006. Prior to that, Manior was the head coach at Savannah High School, and before that an assistant at Effingham High School, where he started his coaching career in 1994. Manior was also the head boys and girls track & field coach at South Effingham. The Mustangs' football team went 4-6 last season.
JEFF BOWEN: Bowen started his career in 1985 as an assistant at Dodge County, but now is the head coach at Class A Telfair County High School in McRae. He also has a masters degree from one of the nation's most prestigious universities, Cambridge. The Telfair Trojans posted a 3-7 record last season.
MICHAEL MARTIN: Martin has been the head coach at Class AAAAA Windsor Forest in Savannah for the last five years, posting a 29-25 record. The Knights went 6-5 last season.
Noticeably absent on the list of finalists, however, is Indians interim coach Felton Williams, a longtime AHS assistant who failed to win a game last season, then was told at the end of the year that the school would conduct an open search for its next head coach. Williams, of course, was at a disadvantage last season from the outset, taking over the team just a few months before the season began following the abrupt departure of then-coach Reggie Mitchell, who left to take over the open job at Sherwood as a number of the Indians' best players followed by transferring.
The Trojans' vacancy, meanwhile, came about when Charles Flowers retired after three seasons. But Flowers then had a change of heart just months later after the opportunity to become the next head coach job in his native Troup County when that job came open. Flowers confirmed to The Herald on National Signing Day on Wednesday that he will, in fact, leave Dougherty at the end of the season as both a coach and administrator for the school and go back to coaching. The only thing holding up the move to Troup for Flowers was the Dougherty County School Board granting Flowers his release, which happened Thursday.
"The (Troup) job wasn't even open when I retired (from Dougherty)," Flowers said Wednesday. "It was just a unique, special chance to go back to where it all started for me; my alma mater, my hometown. And I couldn't say no. But I will miss Dougherty."