The way that South Pointe lost last Friday night consumed more of Strait Herron’s brainpower over the weekend than his shocking retirement announcement immediately after the game.
“The hardest thing is just thinking about the game,” he said. “We should be practicing right now. It kind of feels a little strange this morning.”
Daniel beat the Stallions 50-49 in double overtime, the visiting Lions punching in -- or not, depending who you ask -- a game-winning 2-point conversion to end South Pointe’s run of four straight state titles. Herron said he didn’t think there was any point in submitting video of the play to the South Carolina High School League. He didn’t think that would change anything.
Several minutes after the dust settled Friday night and Herron had gathered his team around, he became the Stallions’ former coach. He announced his retirement right there on the field, in large part because he figured that since his players were already down, why not give them the other sad news at the same time and get it all over with at once.
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The 50-year old Herron became eligible for retirement from the state of South Carolina on Feb. 20, 2018. But he wanted to coach this group of South Pointe seniors and take a shot at making state history (no public school has ever won five consecutive state titles). So he knew in his mind that there would come a time this fall when he had to tell his players that he was moving on. He just didn’t think it would be after a loss in the playoffs’ third round.
“I was hoping it was gonna happen down in Columbia,” Herron said.
He talked to the team again on Monday morning, focusing more on dealing with the controversial call that ended the team’s season than his imminent departure, which will happen Jan. 1, 2019.
“Kids are resilient, they’re gonna move on,” Herron said. “I’m more concerned about the coaches because who knows what their future holds.”
Herron said he will coach again in the future. He admitted he’s lost his fire for teaching in a classroom setting, but not for coaching football. Keep that in mind when guessing about his next move with your friends.
As for South Pointe’s program, well, it’s the end of an era. What the next one will look like isn’t clear. With Legion Collegiate Charter Academy opening, there will be more pressure on South Pointe’s pool of athletes, specifically for football. And that’s assuming that York Prep, which joins the SCHSL with Legion this coming year, doesn’t start its own football program in the near future.
Herron’s replacement will be the first big athletic hire for first-year athletic director Adam Hare and first-year principal Marty Conner. It’s not clear which direction they would prefer to go. You have to imagine some of South Pointe’s current staff will be interested in the head job, including offensive coordinator Jason McManus, and maybe one of the coaches that’s been at the school since it opened. (This is speculation by the way.)
Outside of the program there is sure to be plenty of interest in the position.
While Rock Hill’s school district splits resources three ways and the South Pointe job isn’t one of the state’s most lucrative, the school’s athletic talent pool is deep and the tradition, while only 13 years old, is established and widely respected around the Carolinas.
Pittman and Floyd recognized by state coaches’ association
Two local coaches were recognized by the South Carolina Football Coaches Association late last week. Rock Hill’s Bubba Pittman was named 5A Upper State coach of the year, while Chester’s Victor Floyd was tabbed 3A Upper State coach of the year.
Pittman led Rock Hill to eight wins, its best haul since 2009, and also the Bearcats’ first city and region championships since 2009. Additionally, Rock Hill won its first playoff game since 2008, beating Laurens two weeks ago.
Floyd has worked his magic a second time at Chester, leading the Cyclones to a 12-0 record, their best mark since the 1930s. They won their region championship and are still alive in the 3A state playoffs, hosting Southside this Friday.
Pittman and Floyd were also both named Tri-County Coaches Association coaches of the year earlier this month.
There was one local player recognized by the SCFCA as well. Chester senior and Appalachian State commit Wyatt Tunall was named 3A Upper State lineman of the year. Tunall was selected to the South Carolina Shrine Bowl squad and is a finalist for the Mr. Football award.
York County won’t have a state finalist this season for first time in 12 years
York County schools were wiped out of the playoffs this past Friday. As Herald freelancer Steven Bowers and WRHI’s Chris Miller helped point out over the weekend, 2018 will mark the first state championship Saturday with no York County representative since 2006. Clover, York, South Pointe and Northwestern have all played for state titles in the last 12 seasons.
This will also be the first year since 2012 that a York County school won’t win a state title.
South Pointe and Northwestern won six championships combined in the years since 2012. Before that, Clover won in 2007, South Pointe in 2008, Northwestern in 2010 and South Pointe in 2011.
In 2008, 2010, 2014 and 2015, York County had two teams reach state finals in the same year.
South Pointe and Northwestern played each other in the 4A Division II championship in 2008, before both reached state title games in 2010 (the Trojans winning Big 16, while the Stallions lost to Myrtle Beach). In 2014, York and South Pointe both played for titles, York falling to Spartanburg and the Stallions beating Hartsville. And in 2015, South Pointe and Northwestern blew out their opponents to win the 3A and 4A Division II championships.