VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — It’s officially official.
The Lowndes County School Board voted to approve the hiring of former Thomasville head football coach Zach Grage as the new head coach of the Vikings football program Tuesday.
Grage calling Lowndes a destination job; making it very clear to the hundreds of Viking fans inside the Performing Arts Center tonight that he is here for the long haul.
Of course Grage is no stranger to seven-A football in the state of Georgia; serving as an assistant for Colquitt County before his coaching road took him to the Rose City where he spent the last six seasons as head coach for the Thomasville Bulldogs; amassing numerous region titles and a state runner up finish this past season.
His success in South Georgia has landed him the keys to one of the most storied programs in the country and he’s not going to let a moment go to waste.
“Being able to come here and have those resources and have the people who are willing to do anything and everything," Grage told ABC 27 Tuesday. "That’s what I’m most looking forward to. I think football is football and to play it on this stage, at this school, with this storied tradition of course which is something we’re familiar with.
"But then also the support I mean there was enough people here to fill half the stadium. So I think it’ll hit tomorrow a little bit when I see the kids running around on the field a little bit, working out in the weightlifting class. And that first time running out on Friday nights at that stadium is going to be unreal.”
According to a news release from Lowndes County Schools, Grage has 15 years of coaching experience at the high school level and most recently served as head coach of the Thomasville High School Bulldogs for the past six years. There, he took over a program that went 1-8 in their previous season.
He ended with a record of 53-23 at Thomasville with multiple playoff appearances in the last five years. The Bulldogs won the region in 2017, 2018, and 2021 with a region record of 23-4.
Four of his teams went to the quarterfinals or further with the 2021 team making a state championship game appearance.
Grage’s career began his career in Richmond Hill in 2006 as a baseball coach. He joined the football staff and quickly moved up, serving as offensive coordinator in 2009 before leaving for Colquitt County.
At Colquitt County, Grage coached varsity football as well as serving as the varsity baseball pitching coach. In football, he served in many capacities including strength and conditioning coordinator (2013-14) and offensive coordinator. As offensive coordinator in 2014, his Colquitt County team set the state record in the highest classification for points scored with 687. His 2014 team finished undefeated in winning the Georgia 6A state championship.
Before assuming the Thomasville City head coach position in 2016, Grage coached one year as the head coach at Gilmer High School in Ellijay, Georgia.
“I am very excited and humbled to have the opportunity to lead this program and carry on the One Lowndes traditions,” Grage said in a statemnt provided by Lowndes County Schools.
Grage will begin his new role Wednesday when he meets with the team and coaching staff.
He looks forward to not only starting the job, but immersing himself, his wife, Mandy and their three children in the community.
“There is no doubt that this is a destination job,” he says. “My family and I fully plan on making this our home. We want our kids to go through the Lowndes County School System.”
Before coaching athletes at Lowndes, Grage has made it clear that he wants to get to know them as individuals. “My first priority is to learn all of the kids as fast as I can,” he says. “I want to dive into every aspect of their lives, from academics to social aspects, to of course, football.”
Grage graduated high school in Indiana and earned his bachelor’s in Mathematics at the University of Evansville.
He went on to earn a master’s degree in Kinesiology from Georgia Southern and his Teacher Leadership from Georgia Southwestern State University.
Superintendent Wes Taylor is excited to have Coach Grage on staff.
“We welcome Coach Grage, his wife, and children to our Viking family,” Taylor said in a statement provided by the school district. “He is a great addition and we look forward to him continuing our winning tradition.”
Grage will be the 4th Lowndes head coach in the last 30 years and the program's 10th head coach in the 56-year history of the program.
Grage's move to Lowndes County began earlier Tuesday.
Thomasville High School posted a job opening for a new head football coach, confirming that Grage will be leaving the position Tuesday.
"Thomasville High School is thankful to Coach Zach Grage and his family for the leadership they have provided our football program over the last six seasons. We wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors," Thomasville Athletic Director Jeremy Rayburn said.
Offensive Coordinator and long time staff member Jonathan DeLay has been named interim head coach until a new coach is found, according to Rayburn.
"We plan to move quickly, but will be diligent in the process to find the next Head Football Coach in our storied program’s history," Rayburn said.
The job has been posted and applicants can apply via the Thomasville City Schools website or TeachGeorgia.org.