Matthews returns to Lakeside as head baseball coach

When Jay Matthews gave up his post as head coach of the Lakeside High School baseball team in 2008, having two young children was a big part of the decision.

Now that Brittany, 9, and McKenzie, 7, are older, he figures the timing is right again.

On Tuesday, the school announced that Matthews will return to coach the Panthers.

"They'll be my biggest fans," Matthews said of his daughters.

A physical education teacher at Riverside Middle School, Matthews succeeds T.J. Davis.

In April, Columbia County Schools Superintendent Charles Nagle confirmed that Davis had resigned from the position because of personal reasons. It was his third year at the helm.

Assistant coach Jon Johnson served as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

In 2009-10, Lakeside advanced to the Class AAAA state championship series before falling in two games to Marist.

After losing eight senior starters prior to this season, the Panthers finished 7-13 overall and 4-6 in Region 2B-AAAA and failed to make the postseason.

A long-time assistant at Lakeside prior to becoming the head coach in 2004, Matthews also played for the Panthers while in high school. He'll remain at Riverside, where he had coached baseball and softball.

"The baseball aspect of the Lakeside program I'm really familiar with," Matthews said. "As far as the players are concerned, this would be my fourth year out, so I don't know them and they don't know me.

"It's a unique situation," he added. "I'm excited, just because I get to go in and evaluate what's there, and everybody gets a fresh start."

Lakeside Athletic Director Donnie Burch said the timing is just right, as the Panthers will begin summer ball soon.

"The good thing about Jay is that he's a top-to-bottom kind of guy," Burch said. "To him, the ninth-graders are just as important as the 12th-graders."

Reach Justin Williams at (706) 868-1222, ext. 116,

or justin.williams@augustachronicle.com.

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