Larry Harold likes to consider himself to be a bit of a program remodeling specialist.
A man who inherited a program that went 1-9 in 2011, Harold needed just three seasons to turn Macon County into a 9-3 team and a playoff contender. His program produced Roquan Smith, recently named Georgia’s defensive MVP as a sophomore, and Detrich Clark, who spent two seasons at Eastern Arizona before transferring to Colorado State and playing for Mike Bobo at receiver this season.
One could argue that Macon County might not be playing for the GHSA Class 1A public school championship Saturday without Harold’s work. Most of the players, especially the juniors and seniors, started out in Harold’s system.
“I’m excited and elated for those guys to finish what we started,” Harold said.
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Roads diverged for Harold and Macon County in early 2015. Looking for a bigger challenge, Harold took over the Brunswick program while national media attention was focused on Montezuma and Smith’s well-publicized recruiting journey. Harold’s shepherding of Smith through a process that took the linebacker from UCLA to Georgia was Harold’s final act at Macon County before moving to the coast.
Macon County hired Dexter Copeland and kept improving. Saturday’s game against McIntosh County Academy will be for the Bulldogs’ first GHSA football title in 20 years, and quarterback K’hari Lane, who started as a sophomore under Harold, is threatening to break Hutson Mason’s single-season touchdown passing record.
“K’hari has turned into a grown man,” Harold said. “I’m happy for him.”
Harold, meanwhile, is looking for work.
Brunswick, a Class 5A team at the time of Harold’s arrival and now a Class 6A program, wanted a boost after a stretch of four seasons without a playoff victory. Harold was expected to deliver that boost ... quickly.
Harold wanted three seasons to put his plan into place. He only got two. After going 3-7 in 2015 and 5-5 this season, Harold was shown the door. The fact that the five losses this season came by a combined 14 points did him no good.
“Things just didn’t quite work out,” Harold said. “They wanted to see quicker results. That’s how it is with big programs. I understand the nature of the business.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity to coach 6A football, and I hope to get to work more with some great young men.”
The quick parting of ways is something Harold is taking in stride, something he sees as the price of doing business in a football-hungry part of the state. He’s in job search mode, and recent openings at Perry and Bleckley County have caught his eye.
Ironically, Harold’s former position will keep him away from the Georgia Dome on Saturday. The day is also an ACT test date, and he is helping out with testing that day.
Harold’s heart, however, will be with his former players from Macon County, players in a program that began to win again him and have thrived even more under Copeland, whom Harold said he keeps in touch with.
“These boys were in the sixth, seventh, eighth grade when I got there, and now they’re juniors and seniors,” Harold said. “They’re his players, but they’re also my boys.”