Billy Roper, a 1989 Adairsville High graduate who has spent the past four years as an assistant baseball coach at the school, assumed those new duties Wednesday. He replaces Eric Bishop, who just stepped down from the baseball position and earlier was named the head football coach for the Tigers.
Roper, who was pitching coach on Bishop’s staff the past two years, has named four assistants.
“Two of those assistants — Chantry Gulledge and Kurt Scoggins — currently are on the staff,” Roper said. “It also will include Ray Reece as our pitching coach and Aaron McCorkle, who’s been with our softball program.”
He said Reece, who is already at the school, is a former head baseball coach at Gordon Central. He and Reece played baseball together at Shorter College.
Roper said having been an assistant coach at Adairsville will help him direct the program as he goes forward.
“I think one of good things about being a coach here the past four years,” he said, “is I’ve known these young men since they came in the program. They know me and I know them.”
Roper said he knows their baseball strengths and weaknesses and that should help him this summer as he implements a program intended to help mold the Tigers into a team that can compete in tough Region 5-AAA.
The coach noted he saw how the Tigers buckled down in the spring and made the state playoffs.
“It’s a testament to our kids and coach Bishop how we pushed the [players] and they did everything we asked,” he said. “Early on, we’d win a few games and then we’d lose a few because we might not get that hit or key play we needed. We were up and down, but the most impressive thing was when we had to win six of seven games to make the playoffs, they did. It’s a testament to their character and willingness to play the game the right way that they were able to do that.”
Roper said a lot of those players will be returning. “We have Tristan Smith, Casey McCrory, Cody Melton, Tyler Washington and Nate Medlock returning, and we also have two or three upcoming juniors who got a lot of playing ime who will be back.”
He said the team will return 11 experienced players.
“The cupboard definitely is not bare,” he stressed.
That is important for Adairsville as it is in a tough region that includes perennial state power Cartersville.
“Obviously when you are in the same region with Cartersville and in the same county,” he said, “you get very familiar with their program. Our players get to see what Cartersville is doing and we stress in order to have that success we have to have that same commitment to our program and to academics. We stress you know what you want, now let’s go do it.”
Roper’s ties to Adairsville go back a long way.
He grew up in Rydal and attended Pine Log Elementary. At Adairsville, he played baseball for Eddie Chastain.
He later played college baseball at Truett-McConnell College and then Shorter College.
Roper was the head baseball coach nine years with the Newton County Rams. He also spent a year at North Cobb, where he assisted with the varsity and worked with infielders.
In addition to coaching baseball at Adairsville, he was the assistant head football coach and defensive coordinator for the Tigers. Roper will remain a football coach for the Tigers.
Roper said he is glad to be back home in Bartow County coaching.
“I think it’s good I went away and then came back,” he said. “Now a lot of people I knew have kids or cousins here, and they know me and how hard I work. I also think it’s easier for them to trust me because they’ve known me all of my life.”
Roper holds a high school diploma from Adairsville, a Bachelor of Science Degree from Shorter, a Masters in Education from Troy State University and an Educational Specialist degree from Lincoln Memorial University.
He did his student teaching at Model High School.