Jerry Brown, who led the Berkeley football team to three state championships in 18 years as head coach, resigned to take the athletic director's job at Fairfield Central in Winnsboro.
"That's my hometown," said the 60-year-old Brown, who played for Winnsboro High and graduated in 1968. He coached at Fairfield Central from 1990-92. "It's a homecoming, but at the same time, it feels like I'm leaving home. It's been a great run. The people, the students, the administration have supported me. I have friends at school, in the community and at church. It's the hardest decision I've ever had to make."
Brown has been coaching football in one way or another for 40 years. But he will not coach football at Fairfield Central. He said his final season at Berkeley took a toll on him physically and mentally and he can use a break -- for now.
"That was probably my toughest year because I had to coach defense," said Brown, who was 175-62 at Berkeley and is 237-106 overall. "Last year took a toll. We had the death of the player (D.J. Weathers) in the first week, and that was tough to deal with for me, the kids. It was the third time I lost a player to a car wreck. It was draining.
"I'm sure I'll miss coaching football as sure as the sun comes up," Brown added. "When you're competitive, you're going to miss it. But I'm not going to miss waking up at 5 a.m. for two-a-days. I won't miss the hurting knees or the aching back. But I will miss the kids."
Brown's first head coaching job was at Spring Valley, and he led the Vikings to the state championship in 1988. He coached at Spring Valley for six years before returning home to Fairfield Central.
He arrived in Moncks Corner in '93 and inherited a team that won a combined six games in the previous two years. He led the Stags to the state semifinals in his first year.
"That might have been my greatest memory," Brown said. "I had a bunch of seniors who were sick of losing, but I wasn't sure if they would buy into my program, my philosophy. They wanted to become winners and did through hard work. It could have gone south, but they stayed with it."
Berkeley won the state title the next year, and the game Brown will not forget is the battle with Stratford.
"We had 12,500 fans in a stadium that seats 4,000," Brown said. "That was something. That state championship was special."
The Stags also won state titles in 1997 and 2009.
"The last one, with Bruce (Ellington on the team) was special, too," Brown said. "I hate to leave, but God gave me a peace that they will bring in somebody who will be successful. Part of me wants to stay, but last year took a toll on me."
The Stags went 9-4 last year and reached the third round of the Class AAA playoffs.
The new head football coach at Fairfield Central is former S.C. State offensive line coach Demetrius Davis.
Follow Philip M. Bowman on Twitter: @pandcphil.