Camden hires new football coach

The Wildcats have a new head football coach, as veteran leader Bob Sphire was approved by the Camden County school board Tuesday night.

A Kentucky native, Sphire has 282 career victories, and coached the last 11 seasons at North Gwinnett. He won five region championships and posted a 110-28 overall record with the Bulldogs, taking them to the state final in 2007 and 2013, and the quarterfinals four other times.

The job attracted about 30 applicants from Texas to Pennsylvania, Camden County High athletic director Gary Blount said, 13 of which were interviewed. Qualifications were an experienced coach who built strong programs, “who had the football knowledge and character to be a good coach for Camden County.”

Sphire will succeed Welton Coffey, who will become the school’s new athletic director July 1 following Blount’s retirement. Coffey won 27 games in four seasons.

“Coach Sphire is recognized as one of the best football minds and most effective coaches in the state,” Blount said. “We feel he has the expertise, attitude and tenacity needed as we compete in one of the most competitive divisions and regions in Georgia.”

Before his 2006 arrival, North Gwinnett had never won 10 games in a season or progressed past the second round of the state playoffs, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association. He won at least that many games in every year from 2006 to 2013, and posted winning records and reached state in every season but one. 

Blount said Sphire has an impressive, pure knowledge of offensive football, tailoring a college-style attack to high school. According to a school system release, his players have gone on to play in the Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference and Big Ten, and in the NFL.

“He runs a wide-open attack, and spreads the ball around,” the athletic director said.

Sphire tangled with the Wildcats twice while at North Gwinnett, beating them in the 2013 season opener at the Georgia Dome, 34-14, and dropping a 35-0 Class 5A quarterfinal in 2009.

The new coach spent the majority of his career in his native state. 

He started the program at Lexington Catholic, went 140-39 there from 1991 to 2005, and steered the Knights to the 2005 state title. He also coached at Knott County in Kentucky, and was head coach, quarterbacks coach and offensive and defensive coordinator for the Lexington Horsemen indoor football franchise.

With a superb pool of applicants, the goal, according to Blount, was to have a recommendation to the school board by January. Sphire, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Eastern Kentucky University and two master’s degrees in education from Western Kentucky University, will be in Camden County full-time beginning in February.

“When you talk to him, you realize he’s a very sincere man,” Blount said. “He wants to grow good young men who will be good citizens.” 

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