Donnie Branch has given a big thumbs-up to his replacement.
Branch stepped down following the 2013 season after three years as the LaGrange High head football coach.
On Thursday, Branch’s successor was named, and it’s someone he knows well.
Dialleo Burks was a player at LaGrange High under Branch, and he also spent two seasons as an assistant coach on Branch’s staff.
This past season Burks was the head coach at Lafayette High School in Alabama.
“This is a really big day for LaGrange High,” Branch said after the official announcement was made on Thursday at the Troup County Board of Education.
Branch said he wasn’t involved in the search process.
“I was out of the process, intentionally, because I could be coaching (on the new staff). I didn’t need to be involved in the process,” Branch said. “I didn’t know who interviewed. I was literally out of it, by my own doing. People would call me and ask me, and I was like, I don’t know. I knew Dialleo had applied. There were a lot of great candidates.”
He is, though, thrilled with the hiring of Burks, who he feels is exactly the right man to lead the football program.
“What a great person to unite the Granger community,” Branch said.
Branch added that Burks is “popular in the Granger community. He is hugely popular. He’s a uniter. The kids love him. He’s a disciplinarian. He’s hard on them. But at the end of the day, they love him.”
Branch said he’ll be there to help anyway he can.
“There will be some things come up,” Branch said. “You dodge one fire, and there’s another one. He’s going to have some things. That’s where I think I can help him a little bit.”
Branch has a long history with Burks.
He coached Burks in football and baseball at LaGrange High, up until Burks graduated in 1992.
The two have remained in touch over the years, and when Branch took over as LaGrange’s head coach before the 2011 season, one of his priorities was to bring Burks back.
Now after a year away, Branch is glad to have Burks back in the fold at LaGrange High.
“We’re lucky to have him,” Branch said.