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RHHS' LeZotte named Georgia’s top high school assistant coach
Tony LeZotte
Richmond Hill High School defensive coordinator Tony LeZotte.

When opposing coaches talk about playing Richmond Hill the discussion invariably turns to how difficult it is to prepare for the Wildcats defense headed by defensive coordinator Tony LeZotte.

LeZotte, starting his 10th year at Richmond Hill where he coaches under older brother Matt, has obviously earned the respect of his peers and it showed last week when he was named the Broyles Award winner for Georgia which goes to the top high school assistant in the state.

The Georgia Football Coaches Association selected LeZotte for the award from a list of several nominees and forwarded his name on to the Broyles Award committee who deemed him worthy.

The Broyles Award was founded in 1996 to recognize the nation’s top college football assistant coach and it was expanded to the high school ranks in 2018. The award is named in honor of Frank Broyles who was a long-time head football coach and athletic director at the University of Arkansas where he built the Razorbacks into a national power.

Broyles was a native of Decatur, Ga., and is considered to be one of Georgia Tech’s greatest athletes. He played quarterback under the legendary Bobby Dodd and led the Yellow Jackets to a win in the 1945 Orange Bowl. He was also an excellent basketball player for the Jackets.

“I’ve kept up with it (Broyles Award) over the years,” LeZotte said. “I’ve seen it trickle down from the college ranks to the high school ranks. It’s a cool deal.

“There are so many really good coaches in the state of Georgia and knowing Georgia is in the top five in the nation as far as high school football goes, this is a big deal,” LeZotte said. “We hope we’re doing everything correctly and taking advantage of it.

“I’m happy to be the recipient of it but it’s a lot of these guys (fellow coaches and players). Everybody makes it tick on the defensive side of the ball. It’s not just one guy.”

In addition to LeZotte, the Wildcats defensive staff includes Tommy Hensley, Zac Sheets, Collin Oliver, and Isaiah Taylor. Rusty Waters recently took a position as the defensive coordinator at Northside Warner Robins.

LeZotte was a four-time All-America defensive back at James Madison University where he currently ranks seventh on the career list for most tackles with 416. He got into coaching after a brief fling with professional football.

“I attempted to play,” LeZotte said with a chuckle. “I went to the Canadian Football League and was with Montreal for about a week. I ended up getting let go after I broke some ribs.

“Right after that I went over to France and played for a summer just to get it out of my system. When I came back, I knew it was time. The dream was over. The next best thing was to get into coaching because I wanted to stay around the game.”

What followed was three years with Matt at Acquinas. From there he went to James Madison and was with the Dukes for three seasons before the staff was let go.

“I worked at a golf course for a year but I wanted to get back into coaching,” LeZotte said. “When Matt got the job here, I ended up following him and now here it is 10 years later.”

In that decade LeZotte got married to Katey and started a family. And, coaching with his brother has made it difficult to move on when opportunities have arisen.

“Matt’s my best friend and to be able to be coaching together and to be around each other each and every day it’s a cool deal,” LeZotte said. “As to being a head coach I don’t really care about that.

“Anybody that’s ever been around me knows I’m not an egotistical guy. Down the line if it ends up happening it ends up happening. I’m very comfortable with where I’m at. I’m fine in my role…I’m a worker bee.”

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