For 17 years, Steve Pardue directed one of the top high-school programs in the state.
During his tenure as the LaGrange High head coach, Pardue compiled a 161-45 record, and he led the team to three state championships.
Now, after three years away from the high-school game, Pardue is set to return to the sidelines.
On Monday, Pardue was announced as the head football coach at East Coweta.
Pardue is taking over for Clint Wade, who stepped down after seven seasons as the East Coweta coach.
Pardue toured the school on Monday with principal Evan Horton and athletic director Ken Kesselring.
“I am really excited. I think this is a great opportunity,” Pardue said in a story in the Newnan Times Herald. “When we played here in the 90s, it had a good tradition, good fan support. So I was hoping it would be a good fit for me. The first time I met Evan and Ken I really hit it off with them and share a vision.”
Pardue joined the LaGrange High staff in 1991, the year the team won a state title.
Pardue took over as head coach in 1994, and after the team went 5-5 and 6-4 in his first two seasons, the Grangers took off in 1996 when they went 11-1.
In 2000, the Grangers went 11-1, kicking off a remarkable run that spanned most of the decade.
The Grangers won state titles in 2001, 2003 and 2004, they were in the semifinals in 2005 and 2008, and from 2001 through 2008 they were in the quarterfinals six times.
Following the 2010 season, Pardue decided to give the college game a try, and he joined the University of Kentucky staff as an assistant coach under his friend Joker Phillips, the head coach.
Phillips was fired following the 2012 season, so Pardue’s tenure as a college coach ended after two years.
Pardue was out of the coaching game in 2013, and he’s eager to get back in the saddle.
East Coweta has a proud history, but it is coming off back-to-back losing seasons.
“Every school’s different. You’ve got to be able to adjust a little bit. I think the key is we want to build a program,” Pardue said. “We don’t want to have just a good season here or there. We want it to be where they say East Coweta, you know what you’re going to get. For 48 minutes they’re going to play hard every Friday night. The foundation at our program here will be like LaGrange, in the weight room. You have to have a tremendous off-season program, summer program to get you ready for the season. We’ll become hard working kids. We want to be known as tough guys. Not dumb guys, but guys that are going to play hard and bring the lunch pail to work.”