TIFTON -- In a special called meeting Wednesday afternoon, the Tift County Board of Education officially accepted the resignation of Tift County High football coach Tommy Seward.

The board went into executive session for almost an hour and 45 minutes. During that time, Seward was asked in to talk to the board several times.

Once the public part of the meeting began again, the board unanimously accepted Seward's resignation. Board member Joseph Carter then made the motion to look for a successor within the current coaching staff.

After some discussion the board approved that motion, 4-3. Carter, Scott Shiver, John W. Smith and board chairman Erick Willis voted in favor, while Tommy Fresh, Betty Parson and Richard Golden voted against.

Shiver had seconded the motion, while Smith was the last person to vote in favor.

Fresh said after the meeting, "I just thought we needed to open it up to everyone that wanted to apply. I did not want to show favoritism to anyone. If a member of the current staff wanted to apply, they could apply."

After the vote to look at the staff, the board's personnel committee was entrusted to immediately begin a search for a new coach.

The personnel committee is composed of Smith, Fresh and Willis. Seward was pleased that the board voted to look within the staff first.

In a prepared statement he released to the Gazette, Seward said, "As I resign my position as head football coach, it is my hope that the present staff can remain and that one of them will be head coach. Continuity is a tremendous factor in the success of a program."

He continued, "This is as fine a group of men as you could ask for, and they have done the work to get the program where it is. The players deserve to have them remain as mentors and positive role models, and these coaches deserve the opportunity."

Besides the statement, Seward said after the meeting, "The kids are excited. The fans are back in the stands and we are on the verge of being very successful. We were only three plays away from being 8-2 this past season and we have some good athletes coming up."

Even with that, Seward said, "I had decided after the season to resign."

In the statement, he added, "They say you'll know it when the time comes. I knew it at the end of the season. The 12-hour days over the past 33 years of coaching, and my 60th birthday is right around the bend."

Seward was a member of the Tift County staff under Gene Brodie. That staff helped lead Tift County to its only state title in 1983.

After leaving Tift, Seward returned in 2001 to take over for Bob Stinchcomb. Seward had been the offensive coordinator at Houston County before returning.

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