It will be Steve Horton’s job to turn around the fortunes of the long-suffering Spartans after being named the school’s new coach.
The 37-year old Horton — who coached at Mason Creek Middle School in Douglasville the last couple of seasons after a five-year stint at Lithia Springs High — replaces Todd Powers, who was relieved of his duties after an 0-10 season in 2012 and was 0-20 in his two years at the helm.
Horton was hired for the position in early February, with his appointment approved by the Fulton County Board of Education Thursday.
The new coach now looks forward to rebuilding a North Springs program that hasn’t won a game since 2009 and has gone winless in five of the last seven seasons.
“I feel like, right now, it’s a great opportunity,” Horton said. “With the limited success that they’ve had in the past, it’s a great opportunity for growth — for making a change and making a difference in quite a few lives.”
Horton faced a similar situation at Lithia Springs, where he tried to rebuild the long-dormant program there from 2006 to ’10.
He posted a 13-37 record in his five years at the Douglas County school, but was beginning to make inroads with a 5-5 mark in 2010 — the Lions’ first .500 or better winning percentage since ’99 — before stepping down after that season to spend more time with his family.
“I’ve been kind of a magnet for taking on challenges and North Springs is definitely a big challenge,” Horton said. “It’s kind of something that drives me, gets me out of bed in the morning. At Lithia Springs, we took over the same type of program, a program that was not operating up to par. The biggest difference was the difference we made in some of the kids’ lives. We had 35 kids signed to play college football out of our program, which was something unheard of for this area.”
After a couple of years away from high school football, coaching on the middle school level, Horton said he was ready to get back into it.
“I realized that [being a high school coach] was part of who I am and the North Springs opportunity came along,” Horton said. “I interviewed for three different jobs this offseason and North Springs was — it felt like the best fit for me.”
Horton was an All-State quarterback at Sahuaro High School in Tucson, Ariz., where he graduated in 1992.
He went on to play quarterback on the college level at Central Arkansas and graduated from there in ’96.
After playing minor league football in Germany for two years, Horton moved on to coach at Rincon High School in Tucson — where he was the offensive coordinator in ’98 and ’99 and head coach from ’00 to ’02.
He was also an assistant at Eagle’s Landing (’03) and South Gwinnett (’04) and was the defensive coordinator at Monroe Area (’05) before taking the job at Lithia Springs.
For Horton, helping his players develop off the field as well as on is his top priority.
“The biggest thing we bring is a completely different environment,” Horton said. “It’s a great environment for kids to be around. One of my big things is not just coaching football, but coaching young men into men — to get them ready for the real world and to help and mentor them for that change is a big deal.”
North Springs athletic director Tommy Amoroso is looking forward to what his new coach will bring to the Spartan football program.
“Coach Horton brings over 15 years of coaching and head coaching experience. … He comes to us with a reputation of teaching life skills, values and dynamic football knowledge,” Amoroso said.
Establishing the groundwork for success is the main focus for Horton as he looks ahead to his first year at the North Springs helm.
“Our goal is to lay a strong foundation for the future, to instill in our athletes the discipline and academic strength they will be held to and to help them understand that,” Horton said. “We want to be competitive all year long and to win football games.”