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Coach happy to be back at LaGrange

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

A familiar face will be a part of LaGrange High’s new-look coaching staff.

Matt Neighbors, who was an assistant football coach at LaGrange in 2015, is returning to the school to join the staff that has been put together by new head coach Matt Napier.

Neighbors will be the offensive coordinator, and he’ll also be in charge of recruiting.

“I’m fired up. It’s a really good opportunity,” Neighbors said. “Me and Matt are good friends. Me and him mesh really well from a coaching standpoint, and kind of see eye-to-eye on a lot of stuff. It’s a thing that me and him talked about for a long time, so this is really cool to see it come fruition. I’m excited. I think we have some really good things going on no doubt.”

Neighbors was the offensive coordinator at Greenville High in 2013 and 2014 before spending the 2015 season at LaGrange.

During his first stint with LaGrange, Neighbors was the quarterbacks coach, and he worked closely with all-state player LaPerion Perry, who plays at the University of West Georgia.

Neighbors was the running-backs coach at Callaway from 2016 to 2018, and he worked with D.J. Atkins and Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby, who both had 2,000-yard seasons.

After spending one season at Mount Zion, Neighbors was invited to join the LaGrange program, and he jumped at the opportunity.

“When (Napier) called me, I was fired up about it,” Neighbors said. “It took me a little bit because I enjoyed where I was. But coaching, it’s all about relationships, and being able to work with somebody you see eye-to-eye with and mesh with, it makes it enjoyable. It was something I can’t pass up.”

Neighbors is looking forward to coaching some talented offensive players next season, including running backs Caleb Ross and Kale Gibbs.

“Caleb Ross, I’ve known him since he was 8-years-old,” Neighbors said. “Me and him have a really good relationship, and I know he was jacked when I got the job, and I’m jacked to work with him. And Kale, he’s a work horse. He’s sending me videos of him chopping down trees. I’m fired up about him, too. And there are a lot of good rising ninth-graders and 10th-graders that are going to be really special players. It’s a good opportunity, and I’m fired up. We’ve got a really good staff in place, and I think we can do some really good things.”

In addition to his coaching responsibilities, Neighbors will also be LaGrange’s recruiting coordinator, and he’s eager to help the players find a college home.

“From the exposure, and just getting kids signed and changing lives, that’s what it’s all about,” Neighbors said. “I’ve had a lot of success with that, and hopefully I’ll be able to bring that over here.”

Neighbors is having to do his coaching from a distance at the moment since football teams across the state are unable to get together at the moment because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s weird not being able to have spring practice and work out with them, but everybody in the state of Georgia and the country is doing this, so it’s not like we’re at a disadvantage,” Neighbors said. “It kind of shows the guys that are being accountable, too. They’re going to kind of tell on themselves when we get back.”