Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo By Michael Alexander
Mike Earwood, the new head football coach Our Lady of Mercy High School, Fayetteville, addresses players and parents during a March 24 meet and greet. Bringing the M and cross back to their helmets is one of the changes he plans to make this coming season to give his team its own identity and fill his players with a sense of pride.


Our Lady Of Mercy Names New Head Football Coach

By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Staff Photographer | Published April 15, 2010

Excitement and anticipation surround the football program at Our Lady of Mercy High School with the recent hiring of new head football Mike Earwood. With a career record of 186-62, Coach Earwood leaves neighboring Starr’s Mill High School, where he was the first and only football coach at the Fayette County public school. Starr’s Mill opened in 1997, just three years prior to Mercy.

Earwood went 90-48 during his 12 seasons at Starr’s Mill, and the school went to the playoffs nine times during his tenure there. Earwood also coached 10 seasons (1986-1995) at Cartersville High School, where he led the team to a state championship in 1991.

Our Lady of Mercy has averaged approximately two wins per season over its last ten. Their best season came in 2007 when they finished 4-6. During a March 24 meet-and-greet in the school cafeteria, Earwood said, “Our theme going into next season is about commitment. In order to turn around the football program at Mercy, it’s going to require commitment out of the players, understanding from the parents and a very dedicated coaching staff.” Earwood was accompanied by his wife of 31 years, Susan, and assistant coaches Nathan Watts, Kevin Walker and Don Tyre were also on hand.

The new coach has asked the players to train in the summer, and he has plans to help them improve their speed work. During the last week of July he is taking the players to football camp, where they will rise at 6 a.m., talk about football and life issues, pray together, work on conditioning and “practice, practice, practice for four days.” Earwood wants his players to become closer and have a shared respect for one another through the camp experience.

As he addressed parents and players at the March 24 session, he stressed that academics would be kept first and that athletes capable of playing college football can rest assured that he will do everything he can to get those students signed.

He added, “The players have a certain responsibility in being good enough, and parents have a responsibility in terms of being realistic about their child’s ability. There’s a place for everybody to play if they’ve got some talent and they want it bad enough.”

Earwood is thankful for the administrative support he has received thus far. One of the immediate challenges the new coach faces at Mercy is the establishment of a player feeder system. Many successful football programs use the feeder system as a key means for providing training and experience for young up-and-coming players.

Earwood said, “We are very focused on trying to get a feeder system up and running. That’s going to be my number one priority.”

In the meantime, Earwood is conducting player conferences, determining equipment needs, typing up rules and regulations, organizing spring practice and planning for an April 20 parent meeting.

He is also attending other school-related sporting events so he can get to know other athletes and build a rapport with the students.

In introducing the school’s new football coach, Our Lady of Mercy athletic director Bill Schmitz said, “We are extremely excited about the addition of Coach Earwood. His record and, more importantly, his reputation speak for themselves. We believe that our football program will be highly competitive and well respected in a very short time with his direction. Our numbers have already increased considerably, and the mood and attitude of the players and parents in the program is soaring.”

Earwood said, “I’m in this business because I love kids. This is my ministry. I feel like I can make a difference with kids through the game of football and use it as a tool. But they put that scoreboard out there for a reason, and I’m as competitive as anybody when it comes to putting a program out there that you can be proud of.”

Our Lady of Mercy will face Atlanta’s Cross Keys High School at home on Aug. 21 in their first game of the 2010 football season.