The months that led to Reetz's departure and Bowles' arrival at Porter-Gaud

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Brad Bowles was hired as head football coach at Porter-Gaud last week, as first reported by the Moultrie News and later confirmed publicly by the school.

Bowles, 37, replaces former Cyclones head coach Rick Reetz, who officially resigned in May and has since accepted an offensive coordinator position at James Island Charter High School.

Reetz, 60, went 71-47 overall and reached two state championship games in 10 seasons with Porter-Gaud. He's widely regarded as one of the better offensive minds in the state, orchestrating a unit that's averaged 31 points per game the past 10 years.

The Cyclones went 9-3 last fall, losing only to First Baptist and Hammond, who eventually played each other for the SCISA AAA state championship. Reetz’s future with the team still seemed unclear, though, as he wasn’t immediately offered an opportunity to return the following season.

The uncertainty prompted Cyclones football players to draw up a petition in their coach’s favor in February. “Coach Reetz and his staff have taught us numerous lessons on football, work ethic, and life,” the petition read. “Rick Reetz cares more about his players than any coach I have ever had.”

Less than a week after the petition was delivered to the school board, Reetz was offered a one-year extension with no further guarantee moving forward. Several members of the Cyclones athletics department were consistently in favor of retaining Reetz but decisions to extend or terminate coaches at Porter-Gaud are handled by the school’s board.

The lack of job security led Reetz to entertain opportunities elsewhere. He was introduced to James Island head coach Ike Allred through a mutual friend. The Trojans, who compete in the S.C. High School League’s Class AAAAA, needed an offensive coordinator and Reetz was offered full control of the offense, along with an opportunity to teach engineering in the school’s Career and Technology Education department.

Reetz bid farewell to his team the second week of May, saying "I know God has great plans for us all. I am thankful for the opportunity to coach the finest young men a coach could ever ask for.”

Several Cyclones assistants are expected to follow Reetz to James Island. Rising senior quarterback Gunnar Nistad, who passed for nearly 2,700 yards for Porter-Gaud last fall, intends to transfer to James Island this offseason, telling the Moultrie News that the opportunity to play for both Reetz and  Allred at the same time “was something I couldn’t pass up. Rising junior Legend Waring, who would've been the Cyclones’ leading returning receiver, is transferring to California in a move unrelated to the coaching situation. Reetz has remained complimentary of Porter-Gaud and its administration throughout the process and spoke optimistically of the Cyclones' future following his departure. 

The opening at Porter-Gaud immediately attracted heavy interest, drawing more than 30 applicants the week it was announced. Several prominent Lowcountry head coaches either applied or inquired, as did several local college and high-ranking high school assistants. All four of the finalists had ties to the Lowcountry.

Bowles was selected just over four weeks after Reetz publicly announced his departure.

He’s spent the past four seasons as head coach of Providence High School in Charlotte, N.C., where he led the Panthers to a 23-25 overall record and a conference championship last fall. He served as head football coach and athletics director at St. John’s from 2013-15, going 14-9 and winning two region championships in two years. He spent the prior four years as an assistant coach at Goose Creek from 2010-13, helping the Gators to their most successful run in school history with a 39-3 overall record his final three seasons, including the 2011 AAAA Division II state championship.

“We’re thrilled to have Coach Bowles join the Cyclone community,” Porter-Gaud athletics director Larry Salley said. “He has demonstrated the ability to build a successful program and a strong team culture everywhere he has been, and we look forward to him adding a new chapter to Porter-Gaud football’s long history of excellence.”

Bowles is just the third head football coach at Porter-Gaud since the Cyclones entered the S.C. Independent School Association in 1995.

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