WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Two of the best football programs in Central Georgia have some new names at the heads of their programs, but both coaches are familiar faces in the region.
Marquis Westbrook takes over as head coach at Warner Robins after three years as a defensive coordinator. He coached under Mike Chastain, who's now top dog at Jones County High School.
Westbrook received a warm reception from his players when he was announced to the team in May. They swarmed him in the team's weight room. The welcome gave the first-time head coach a lot of confidence.
"It's goosebumps knowing that those kids have your back and knowing that they'll do anything in the world for you," Westbrook said.
He has a big pitchfork to pick up in Demon Country. He replaces former head coach, Chastain, who led Warner Robins to back-to-back state championship appearances. Ultimately, he wants to replicate that same success with a different end result.
"The things that Mike (Chastain) implemented, the things that we liked about the program, we're going to keep that rolling. We're just going to try and make sure we mold this team to our personalities as coaches," Westbrook said.
Meanwhile, Chastain took a job just 33 miles away at Jones County High. He replaces second all-time winningest coach Justin Rogers, who went 45-15 in five years as lead Hound. Chastain said the decision was not a hard one.
"Well, it's real easy when you go to a program where things aren't broke, Coach Rogers and the guys here before did a really good job of bringing this program up and bringing it to the state level, not just a region team," Chastain said.
Chastain's practices are like a track meet, indicative of the style of play the Hounds will likely be playing and he hopes the fast pace can take the Hounds from playoff perennials to championship contenders.
"You can go out there for an hour and 50 minutes on Monday and get off the field and an hour and five minutes, hour and 10 minutes on Wednesday and get off the field and be ready to play on Friday," Chastain said. "Since we've been doing that the past few years, I feel like our guys have been a lot more fresh come playoff time and ready to go."
With Westbrook being a branch on the Chastain coaching tree, naturally, the pair have shared some kernels of success with each other.
"How to handle the day-to-day situations as far as like the (athletic director) part, and that's been the biggest help for me," Westbrook said.
Chastain is confident that Westbrook can maintain the success he started while in Warner Robins.
"He is a very, very close friend of mine, and, no doubt, the man for the job over there and there's no doubt that he's going to do a phenomenal job there," Chastain said.
Both programs start their season on Friday. Warner Robins begins on the road at Tift County. Jones County will host Howard High School in the Hound Pound.