By Craig Sager II
Photo of Keith Maloof courtesy of Rob Saye;
Stephens courtesy of Franklin Stephens
The Elite Junior Classic has announced the two head coaches for the second installment of the all-star football game slated for Dec. 29, 2014. Norcross head coach Keith Maloof will coach the North team and Lamar County head coach Franklin Stephens will lead the South squad. Maloof has guided Norcross to consecutive state titles in Georgia’s highest classification and included a perfect 15-0 season in 2012. Maloof graduated from St. Pius X where his father served as head coach for 26 seasons.
Maloof’s experience includes 30 years of coaching and 19 years as a head coach. In addition to a 143-61 career coaching record and 70.1 winning percentage, Maloof’s know-how in working with the state’s top prospects is among the best in the business. Norcross had more than two-dozen seniors sign football scholarships this year and the Gwinnett school has turned into one of the most prolific talent factories in the nation when it comes to producing college athletes. Last night at the Atlanta Sports Awards, Maloof was named Coach of the Year over all other Atlanta-area coaches, including candidates from college and pro sports.
Stephens shares a similar resume with two state titles at Tucker, including a perfect season in 2011. However, Stephens’ impressive track record has been built in just seven seasons as a head coach. Stephens led Lamar County to the Class AA state finals last season and has gone 26-2 in his two years at the school. Prior to his arrival, the Trojans had won 10 games in a season just twice since 1970. The Keysville, Ga. native played for Burke County and was the Southern Conference lineman of the year at Georgia Southern in 1994. Stephens served as Tucker’s head coach from 2007-2011 and led the Tigers to their only two state titles. With Tucker, Stephens coached more than 13 all-state selections. Stephens owns a 90-8-1 career record (91.4 percent) and was able to be a part of the inaugural Elite Junior Classic this past season, serving as a defensive assistant on the South team.
Having two head coaches that are so accustomed to winning and coaching Georgia’s elite crop of talent increases both the appeal of the game and the experience of the players.