Jason Winstead already told Strait Herron not to call him. Winstead isn’t scheduling South Pointe, ever.
Goose Creek High School named Winstead its new head football coach on Thursday morning, calling time on his wildly successful seven years as the Stallions’ defensive coordinator. Winstead and South Pointe won five state titles during his time at the school. Winning a fourth straight state championship in December proved a perfect way for Winstead, essentially Herron’s right-hand man, to put a bow on his time at South Pointe.
“I couldn’t have dreamed the way we went out,” he said, laughing. “I know it’ll be hard to ever get back to this point, but, man, it’s been a heck of a ride here.”
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Herron could always trust Winstead to run practice in his absence. Herron said Winstead’s chief strength is the rapport he develops with his players, an ability to straddle the line between tough-nosed coach and joking buddy.
“He’s just a guy that kids want to play for,” said Herron. “Most successful coaches figure out that connection with kids is the most important thing.”
Herron also praised Winstead’s fundamental coaching abilities and ability to adjust schemes and players within them.
The Stallions were always known for their speed and their 2017 team was a paradigm example of how Winstead used that to the team’s advantage. Absent players that were normal size for linebackers, Winstead employed two smaller players, Savion White and Deangelo Huskey, essentially as hybrid linebacker/defensive backs that attacked the line of scrimmage and ganged up to haul down ball-carriers. White and Huskey had huge seasons, while South Pointe’s defense allowed less than 11 points per game, despite a brutal schedule.
Winstead’s defenses also played their best late in the year. In the four most recent state championship games, the Stallions allowed just 49 total points. Winstead, a 21-year coaching veteran, credited Herron for a largely hands-off approach that let him do his thing on the defensive side of the ball and grow as a coach.
“We’ve been extremely blessed,” Winstead said. “But Strait does a great job of giving us responsibility. The way we set up our coaching staff and how we work and prepare, I think it had me ready to be in charge of the whole thing.”
Winstead, originally from Boiling Springs, S.C., takes over a Goose Creek program that is a far cry from the one that coach Chuck Reedy left when he stepped away in 2014. The Gators are a combined 5-15 the last two seasons and 14-19 under Chris Candor, who was fired after the 2017 season. But they won 10 games or more each season from 2009 to 2014.
“I’m excited, I think it’s a good opportunity. I’m pretty pumped up about it,” said Winstead. “They’ve got some tradition and it’s recent. It’s not like they won back in the 70s. The kids in the community they remember it, it’s not something they have to hear about. So I think they still have players, and hopefully a chance to win.”
What next for South Pointe?
South Pointe coach Strait Herron has been pretty fortunate to have very little coaching turnover the last four years. That changed Thursday with the news that defensive coordinator Jason Winstead is headed to Goose Creek to take the Gators’ head coaching job.
“You always worry about that when you have the success that we have,” said Herron.
Both Winstead and South Pointe offensive coordinator Jason McManus have interviewed for head coaching positions the last few years. Charleston’s Post and Courier said that Winstead also interviewed for the recently-filled Stratford job, while McManus was a finalist last year at Camden.
Herron isn’t in a rush to replace Winstead. He said the “wheels are already in motion” and that South Pointe could go a couple of different ways with the hire. But being in this position is not a surprise to the Stallions’ head man.
“It’s one of those things you expect,” Herron said about Winstead getting a head coaching opportunity. “The most important thing is we wish him the best.”