The Valdosta Daily Times
In a coaching move that will change the high-profile coaching landscape throughout Region 1-AAAAAA, Camden County head coach Jeff Herron resigned from his long-tenured position after 13 seasons, and was announced as the head coach of Prince Avenue Christian in Bogart Wednesday morning.
Herron’s decision to leave the state’s most winning high school football program since 2000 for a small Class A program like Prince Avenue Christian raised many eyebrows across the state. For him, though, the decision was something he has thought about long and hard, and for some time.
“Since I have gotten to the age that I could retire, I guess two years ago, it was something that we have been considering, as a family,” Herron said in a telephone interview with The Times Wednesday afternoon. “I have always been drawn to a small private Christian school atmosphere.”
Herron said family played a major role in his decision to head to the Metro Athens area. His daughter lives in Athens and is expecting the birth of her first child in the coming days.
“When (the job) came open in that area, that is something we had talked about,” Herron said, when talking about moving closer to his daughter. “That was obviously something that excited my wife. I looked into it and saw the facilities and saw the school and I was very impressed with everything.”
Herron, 52, won three state championships at Camden County — 2003, 2008 and 2009. He finished with a 158-18 record, the most wins in the state by any team during his 13 years.
The decision to leave led some to ask whether Herron had done all he could at a school like Camden County, winning state championships and playing on national television at least once for the latter part of five seasons.
“We could always do better,” Herron responded. “We weren’t perfect. I was proud of what we, and I use that word proudly — we — were able to accomplish.
“I felt like I’ve been there and done that, and I want a new and different challenge. What a better way to do that than in a small school that believes in what you believe in.”
This past season, Herron led the Wildcats to the Region 1 championship, despite having a state-record 91-game region winning streak snapped by Colquitt County on the final night of the regular season.
As a coach in Region 1, Herron was one of six head coaches that had won a state championship, making the region one of the most competitive regions in the state.
“I enjoyed it (coaching in Region 1) tremendously,” Herron said. “The regular season was a lot more exciting. I think our kids, fans and coaches all loved it. It was a great season. I’ll miss that. But the people at Prince Avenue, with the success they’ve had there, they feel the same way. They want to win like people here.”
At Prince Avenue Christian, Herron inherits a young, but established program that began in 2005. Despite less than 10 years of competition, PAC was the Class A-Private runner-up in 2012, losing to Eagles Landing Christian in the state championship game.
Following the loss to ELC, former Prince Avenue Christian head coach Mark Farriba was named the head coach at his alma mater, Statford Academy in Macon.
The move to Prince Avenue Christian, located in Oconee County, is somewhat of a homecoming for Herron, who won the 1999 state championship as the head coach of Oconee County High School.
At PAC, Herron will look to become the first coach in state-history to win at least one championship at three different high schools.
Entering his 25th season as a head coach, Herron will take a 242-45 record into Prince Avenue Christian, which will be his sixth head coaching job. He was first a head coach at Walton High School in 1989.
After first being reported by the Oconee Democrat on Tuesday, names of possible replacements for Herron’s job at Camden County started to surface. Possible candidates include: Lamar County head coach Franklin Stephens, who led Tucker to the 2011 Class 4A state championship running the wing-T offense that Herron established at Camden County.
Other candidates surfaced include: Current Camden County offensive coordinator Welton Coffey and former Wildcat defensive coordinator Terry Choweder.
When asked about a replacement, Herron said he hopes the school administration chooses to stay “in the family” but he doesn’t know who will be his successor.
“I met with the (athletic director) today and we talked a little bit,” Herron said. “I know our AD and principal are going to talk about it and the process. I don’t have an idea. There are guys on my staff that are very deserving. I hope they keep it in the family.”