The South Pointe football coaching vacancy rumor mill is cranking full tilt, its employees doing 12-hour shifts and pumping hot air into the machine all hours of the day.
But here’s a key point: Strait Herron’s former job hasn’t been posted on the school district’s job board yet. Which means the search for Herron’s replacement has yet to truly get moving.
Once the job is posted (possibly as soon as this week), South Pointe athletic director Adam Hare and principal Dr. Marty Conner will assemble a committee that will assist with interviewing candidates and the final decision, and Hare and Conner will also disseminate a survey to parents and other stakeholders to learn what they’re looking for in the new coach. Hare would like to be talking with candidates by January.
Hare didn’t expect to be hunting a replacement for one of South Carolina’s best high school football coaches within the first six months of his tenure as South Pointe’s athletic director.
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“I’m getting a lot thrown at me here right off,” he said, smiling.
Herron’s postgame retirement after the Stallions’ overtime loss to Daniel in the second round of the playoffs caught everyone off guard, Hare included.
“I think we all probably were not anticipating losing that early,” he said. “It wasn’t something that had been officially discussed, but the talk was out there. And I wasn’t going to bother him during the season to really dig in to what’s going on.”
Herron’s departure closes the book on a wildly successful chapter in South Pointe’s young football history. Herron won 102 games and led the Stallions to five state titles in seven seasons. The 2017 team went 15-0 and won the school’s fourth straight state title, and Herron was named the 2018 U.S. Army National Coach of the Year. After his onfield retirement announcement several weeks ago, Herron pointed out that he was retiring from “public education” and that he wasn’t done coaching, only that he’d lost his passion for teaching.
Hare taught physical education at Sullivan Middle School for the last 10 years, before replacing Lance Roberts, who retired over the summer, as South Pointe’s AD. Conner is also in his first year at the helm of the school. Now the pair have to make one of the highest profile decisions a high school administrator can make in Rock Hill, S.C.
“We want to continue the tradition of winning and success,’ said Hare, “but at the same time, allow them to be able to develop their own program.”
Hare said that he and Conner would like a head football coach with experience, a quality that would undoubtedly help the Stallions’ next head coach cope with the expectations that saddle the job. Some success level would be good too, but more importantly, “someone that’s gonna work on the character of the kids,” Hare said. “Somebody with a combination of all those attributes.”
Not every Stallion “will become a Clowney or a Gilmore,” and Hare and Conner want to make sure those South Pointe students -- a huge majority of the football program -- are developed as people. Herron indicated to Hare that was an area in which he thought South Pointe’s football program had made great progress in recent years, notably the weekly life skills programs that the team held every Wednesday.
Hare is not sure if he will reach out to candidates, or just wait and see who applies. He and Conner have received emails from interested candidates already. It won’t be easy for whoever gets the job.
“Expectations will definitely be high,” said Hare. “I was wondering if we didn’t win a fifth in a row if they were gonna come after the new AD, or not.”