Raynette Evans was impressed with Sheddrick Risper the first time she met him.
The Bibb County athletics director has kept that same level of admiration for the Weaver Middle School athletics director during the past 11 years, knowing that one day she would give him a chance to run his own high school program.
Evans handed him the keys to the most prominent football job in the Bibb County on Thursday when the man known to most as “Spoon” was approved as the head football coach at Westside by the Bibb County School board.
“I am as confident about this recommendation as I have been for one in a long time,” Evans said. “I know this is the man for the job. ... I feel very, very good and confident about this choice.”
Risper, 34, takes over for the winningest coach in Middle Georgia history — Robert Davis — who started the program after leaving Warner Robins in 1997. Davis led the Seminoles to 100 wins faster than any program in modern Georgia high school football.
“His shoes are way too huge for anyone to fill,” Risper said of Davis. “I have spent most of my coaching career watching and learning from him. I’ve tried to be like a sponge, taking as much as I can from him and adding it to my repertoire. But he’s a legend, and no one will replace him.”
Said Davis, “My shoes are full of cement. This is Spoon’s team now, and he’ll run with it. He’s got some great assistants and some talent coming back. I look forward to going to games next year and watching them play.”
Risper served as a wide receivers coach at Westside from 1998-2002 prior to taking over at Weaver. He led Weaver to six middle school championships in seven years and was the school’s teacher of the year in 2007-08.
Risper will also serve as Westside’s athletics director.
“Spoon isn’t an ordinary middle school coach,” Davis said. “He’s a heck of a coach, and he was with us for a lot of battles. He’s a person, and he’ll do a great job. I can’t imagine why anyone would question (the hire).”
Risper has been a mainstay at Westside even after he stopped coaching with the varsity team. He was at every home football game, spent significant time at practices following the end of the Weaver season and could be spotted regularly at basketball games. Most of Westside’s athletes played for Risper-coached teams.
“It will help, I think, because most kids know my expectations,” Risper said. “I still have a great relationship with a lot of those kids.”
Risper is considered by many of his peers and former players as a high-character individual.
“He’s a great man and a great leader,” said Julian Burnett, a current Westside senior who played for Risper at Weaver. “But he’s strict, and he knows his football.”
Many coaches around the area consider Westside to be the pre-eminent job because of the level of success set forth by Davis. The Seminoles have never had a losing season in 12 years. They have won 10 games in a season five different times and have advanced to the Georgia Dome twice for the state semifinals. Last season, the Seminoles earned their first No. 1 ranking and came within a win of advancing to the semifinals for the third time.
Coming Sunday: Who is Sheddrick Risper? The Telegraph takes a deeper look at the new Westside coach.