South Pointe’s Strait Herron was named the U.S. Army National Coach of the Year Friday night at the Army All-American awards ceremony in San Antonio, Texas.
Herron led South Pointe to the school’s sixth state title, and fifth in his seven years at the program’s helm. The Stallions won all 15 games they played, beating powerhouse programs from North Carolina and Georgia, and sent two players, Derion Kendrick and B.T. Potter, to this week’s Army All-American game. Two other players, Eli Adams and Jamari Currence, joined Potter and Kendrick in signing with Division I colleges, and a number of others are expected to sign with colleges from all levels later in the spring.
Herron, who is serving as the East squad’s defensive coordinator for the Army All-American game, had no inclination he would win the award. But he did sit in an aisle seat at Friday night’s awards show, which made reaching the stage much easier when his name was called.
“Truly special,” Herron said Saturday morning. “Adding it on to this year, having D.K. and B.T., and they’re both down here with me, and an undefeated season, it’s just a true blessing. Then you win the award and throw that on top and if we can go out here and win this game, I don’t know. I might need to retire because I really don’t think you can top it.”
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Herron was named The Herald’s All-Area coach of the year after guiding the Stallions to their magical undefeated title season. He challenged his incredibly talented team early on in the fall, calling the team’s season “The Prima Donna Tour” and saying there was no leadership. The players responded well to the public criticism, which could have backfired. The Stallions romped through the playoffs, dropping Hartsville in the 4A final to win the program’s fourth straight state championship. Herron is 93-11 during his seven years as South Pointe’s head man.
Herron’s star player, Kendrick, was a finalist for Army All-American National Player of the Year Friday night, but that award went to Kendrick’s future Clemson teammate, Cartersville (Ga.) QB Trevor Lawrence. Another future Clemson player, and South Carolina native, Xavier Thomas, was named Lineman of the Year.
Herron was one of seven finalists for coach of the year. It was a top of the mountain-type moment for a coach, who unsuccessfully interviewed for around 15 head coaching jobs before landing the South Pointe gig in 2011.
“Thank goodness I didn’t have to speak,” Herron said. “It’s just a true honor.”