Ike Allred was on the clock at 8 a.m. Wednesday even though he wasn't formally introduced as the James Island Charter School's new football coach until later in the day.
He arrived on campus and saw a young man walking into the school. Allred asked him if he played football. The student replied "sometimes." Allred encouraged the student to play all the time.
"I don't know if he will play or not," Allred said at a news conference. "But I have to create interest. My biggest challenge is getting the kids to play football and finding something they can build their confidence."
Allred, who comes from Chesterfield High School after a long stint as an assistant at Newberry College, takes over a program that has struggled in recent years. He expressed confidence that the Trojans can win on the football field.
"At Newberry College, we made a living off recruiting Charleston County football players," Allred said. "There's plenty of talent in the area, and there's no reason James Island can't be the same."
Allred spent two years at Chesterfield, going 13-12 overall. Chesterfield went 6-7 in his first year there in 2012, reaching the third round of the Division II-AA playoffs. The Rams went 7-5 last year and made the second round of the playoffs.
He will be at James Island in time for spring practice. Before then, he knows he has to drum up interest in the program. He's done it before. There were 32 players on the roster at Chesterfield when he took over. Today, that number has grown to 70.
The Trojans went 2-8 last fall, but Allred has already watched game film and said the team could have won four or five more games. The one thing the Trojans lacked, he said, was confidence.
He plans to run a no-huddle, spread offense.
"If you've watched Clemson or Auburn, that's what we want to do. That also puts people in the stands."
The 38-year-old Allred is no stranger to the Lowcountry. His wife, Christel, lived in the Goose Creek area. They have been married since 2005 and have a son, Cole, who turns 5 next month.
The hiring did come with controversy. The school's board hired Allred even though he wasn't the school leadership committee's top choice. But Allred impressed everyone Wednesday.
"I spoke to him about 20 minutes and he's high energy, straightforward," assistant principal Richard Gordon said. "He is on a mission. The most important thing is that he cares about the kids.
Said Tom Hatley, the school's athletic director: "Coach Allred is young and energetic. I think the kids will relate to him well. He's part of the James Island family now. We support him 150 percent."
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