Downs takes over Alexander football job

Olten Downs, who coached the last two seasons at Westover High in Albany, has been hired as the new football coach at Alexander.

Alexander is hoping Olten Downs can do for its program what he did at two previous coaching stops — win a state title.

The Douglas County Board of Education approved Downs as the new head football coach at Alexander on Monday evening.

Downs replaces Matt Combs, who stepped down last month after 11 years coaching the Cougars to spend more time with is family.

Downs will bring a championship pedigree to the Cougars program as he has two state football championship rings. Alexander will be the fourth head-coaching position for the Columbus native, who has also coached on the college level.

Downs led Creekside to the 2013 Class 4A title, and he was the defensive coordinator on the 2007 Carver-Columbus championship team.

“His resume speaks for itself,” Alexander Principal Chris Small said. “After getting to know him through the interview process, I was convinced he was the right man for the job.”

After spending three years on the collegiate level with stops at Georgia and Georgia Southern, Downs coached the last two seasons at Westover High in Albany.

“I’ve had friends that bragged on the Douglas County School System,” Downs said. “I was truly intrigued about the system. I thought Alexander played a good brand of football. I thought they played at a high level and won.”

In 2011 at the age of 27, he got his first head-coaching job at Riverdale High in Clayton County. The Raiders went 4-6 the first year, and finished 7-4 in 2012 for the program’s first state playoff appearance in seven years.

The following year, he went to Creekside to replace current Douglas County High coach Johnny White.

Creekside went 15-0 and won the Class AAAA title. The following year, the Seminoles repeated as region champs and reached the second-round of the state playoffs.

Downs took a job on then-Georgia head coach Mark Richt’s staff as quality control coach for offense. He was then moved to assistant director of player development in 2016.

He received his first on-field assignment during the 2016 season when Richt was let go prior to the Bulldogs bowl game.

Downs coached the receivers and the Bulldogs won the Liberty Bowl with a win over Penn State.

Downs moved to the Georgia Southern staff where he coached safeties in 2017. After a coaching change on the Georgia Southern staff, he took the Westover job.

Downs has a 47-27 overall record and two region titles and a state championship on his resume.

“I think coaching on the collegiate level gave me a better understanding of the recruiting process,” he said. “I think I will be better able to help kids get to that next level. I learned a lot about organization and structure on the college level.”

Downs hiring makes him the first Black head coach at Alexander. Small said race was not a factor in the hiring process.

“The significance of that is that it is great for our community,” Small said. “In the hiring process, we were looking for the right person for the job. His body of work speaks for itself. Anything after that is a bonus, no question. We are a very diverse school and we should reflect that.”

Downs said Alexander’s diversity is what attracted him to the job.

“This is the world that we live in,” Downs said. “They have great community support. I was looking for that balance.”