Shay takes Georgia job

by John Ring

Imagine getting an unexpected phone call with a job offer that one can only dream about.

That’s what happened to Zach Shay just a few days ago when he was watching a track meet in Sterling. And the Silver Streaks football coach got a job offer that was too good to refuse.

Thanks to a connection at Western Illinois University, Shay will be leaving in a few weeks to assume a position with the University of Georgia as an assistant coach for their defensive secondary.

"Brian Van Gorder called me," said Shay. "He was the defensive coordinator at Western when I was an assistant there. Brian got the job as the defensive coordinator for Georgia and he called me up to offer me the position."

Bulldog football is huge in Georgia. It’s considered— rightly so— one of the Top 10 college football programs in America. They’re The Dawgs. Accepting this offer was a no-brainer for Zach Shay.

Shay’s good fortune is bad luck for the Streaks. In his only season as the GHS coach, Shay performed what many consider The Miracle on Fremont Street— a 5-4 record during the regular season and the first playoff berth for the Silver Streaks in 11 years.

That may not sound like much, but for a program that suffered through two winless seasons, countless poundings and lopsided scores in those previous 11 years it was an incredible feat.

Not bad for a guy who wasn’t the first choice of the Search Committee picked to find a savior for the gridiron Streaks. Shay was turned to when their initial choice, Brad Arthur, suddenly resigned the position he was named to two weeks after his first press conference.

Shay didn’t let that bother him. He hit the ground running, surrounded himself with a young, talented staff, the kids bought into his program and he put together one hell of a year.

"To be honest, we had an unbelievable year," said Shay. "I set high expectations both for myself and the team and we exceeded them. I can’t say enough about the support that our football team got from the community and from the administration at the high school. If we asked for something, we got it. The media in Galesburg did a great job covering our team and the coaching staff we had was incredible."

GHS Athletic Director Mike Robson, who found out about Shay’s resignation while attending an Athletic Directors convention in Peoria, said that the coaching vacancy will be posted for two weeks. "After that time, we’ll assess where we’re at. Since it’s late in the year, we may end up naming an interim coach for a year and then going through the selection process at that time."

"We have several guys who could ably fill that position," said Shay. "Jay Barshinger has been with the football program for several years. Zac Chatterton was huge in getting things organized last year and like Jay, he knows the ins and outs of the program. Then there’s a guy like Scott Gasper, who has tremendous football knowledge."

"The thing is, it would be nice for the sake of continuity for the program. I think it would benefit our kids and the program in the short term if one of the assistant coaches were named. The kids on our football team, they fed off the enthusiasm that we had as a coaching staff and yes, it was a young staff."

While being very pleased with his position at Georgia, Shay still had mixed feelings about living a school he played quarterback for and came back to guide them into the playoffs.

"I’ll always have a special feeling for this community and for the team we had last season," said Shay. "It was a special year for me."