By Gabriel Stovall
FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. — After being somewhat unceremoniously let go from his head coaching position at a Georgia high school football power, Jarrett Laws knew he’d eventually land on his feet.
That happened last Wednesday when Laws, after a two-year stop at Griffin, became the new football coach at Our Lady of Mercy. And Laws said he likes where he’s planted.
“It feels good for me to put my shoes back on and get back to running again,” Laws said.
Laws takes the reigns of the Class A Fayette County football program after the well-known Mike Earwood’s retirement after 29 years of coaching — the last six spent at Our Lady.
While there, Earwood led the once moribund Bobcat program — in its previous nine seasons, OLM had just 15 total wins to its credit — into a postseason contender, culminating with back-to-back playoff appearances in 2012 and 2013.
And it’s that foundation built under Earwood that has Laws excited about the future that lies ahead.
“They feel like they are an emerging possible power in single A ball if we can put all the pieces together,” Laws said. “The best thing they could’ve done was to get Earwood, the legendary coach he is, to come here for six years of building that program to where it’s a viable program in single A ball. When he retired, I felt like from a standpoint of the type of athletes that are here at the school, we would have a lot to work with.”
Laws said he’s already spent some time visiting the school, meeting kids and surveying track meets and other sporting events. It’s left him intrigued with the idea of fitting his penchant for building high octane, fast paced offenses with the talent that’s already present at OLM.
“What they may lack in size, they make up for in speed and just having a real competitiveness in them,” Laws said. “That’s a credit to what coach Earwood was able to instill into them.”
During Laws’ two years at Griffin he took the Bears back-to-back playoff appearances, on the heels of their 2013 Class AAAA championship during the last year of coach Steven Devoursney’s 13-year stint at the program’s helm.
Laws was let go after the 2015 season ended with a 6-5 mark — the school’s worst since the 2003 campaign. But he said he harbors no hard feelings about his time at Griffin. In fact, he believes the experience has better prepared him to handle the rigors of building a Class A power at Our Lady of Mercy.
“I definitely want to make sure to say that I’m grateful to the Griffin community for allowing me to serve, regardless of how things ended,” said Laws, who will finish out the current school year as a teacher at Griffin. “Sometimes when you’re pressed against a wall, you find out what you’re really made of. In these last two years at Griffin, I’ve found out more about myself than I have in my past 17 years of coaching combined.”
And now he said he’s ready to parlay those lessons into gridiron success in a fairly stacked class.
He’s anxious to get started. He has a parent meeting scheduled for this Wednesday, and then he’ll get geared up for spring ball May 2-13 — the first step in laying a foundation for progress.
“You’ve got ELCA, of course, and Landmark, so you’re coming to the table with at least two established, championship programs,” Laws said. “That, without a doubt, will present you challenges on the Single A level. But ultimately we can’t be concerned with who we play. We’ve got to prepare our game plan for what we do and be who we are. If we do that, I think it’ll increase our likelihood to compete.”