Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hood goes out with a loss, but legendary career will be remembered

The following blog comes from Score Atlanta writer Ricky Dimon, who was present for Marietta coach Charlie Hood's final career game. Look for a more in-depth piece on Hood's storied career, complete with interviews, on tomorrow.

Charlie Hood didn’t quite make it to his 1000th game.

The long-time Marietta coach finished at 999 games—and 716 wins—after his underdog Blue Devils fell to visiting Milton 83-50 in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs on Saturday night.

Overmatched in both size and talent, Marietta (which qualified for the state tournament with a below-.500 record thanks to a surprising run to the Region 5-AAAAA tournament final) managed to stay within striking distance for most of the first half.

A frantic pace of play led to a 23-17 Milton advantage at the end of the first quarter; not bad for the Blue Devils considering they trailed 12-2 in the early going.

In the second quarter, Hood put in big man Chad Lang—by far the biggest player on an otherwise small team and son of former Atlanta Hawk Andrew Lang—and that helped Marietta’s defensive effort.

With Marietta down by a respectable 12 points in the waning seconds of the first half, Milton’s Erik Schuelke converted a four-point play with less than a second to go, extending the lead from 38-26 to 42-26 at the intermission.

Marietta could not recover in the second half. The Blue Devils never came closer than 15 points, at 55-40 and 57-42. Milton even extended the lead to 30 points during the fourth quarter at 74-44.

Because the outcome was decided long before the buzzer sounded, the announcer—during a dead ball with 59 seconds left—gave fans the opportunity to thank Hood for his illustrious 37 years as head coach at Marietta.

Hood didn’t leave with a win, but he did exit with the game ball and plenty of memories … the last of which was made by this season’s improbable run to the state tournament.

Dimon can be reached at