Saying there is never a good time to step away, Goose Creek head football coach Chuck Reedy announced his resignation Tuesday, ending a 13-year run and completing one of the most amazing high school football turnaround stories in the state.
"This was the third straight year that I have gone into the season thinking it was my last season," said Reedy, 65. "Each time, after taking a look at some of the players we had coming back, I decided to come back for another year. I did the same thing at the end of this season. I really believe Goose Creek will be a good football team again next year.
"There's always another group coming. At some point, if you're not careful, life gets away from you. I just really believe in my heart this is the right time for me to move into a different phase of my life."
Reedy compiled a 119-47 record in 13 seasons at Goose Creek, leading the school to its only state title in 2011. The Gators were 62-9 in Reedy's last five seasons, including a 49-4 record over the last four. Goose Creek's last loss to an area high school was in 2010.
"I would personally like to thank coach Reedy for his service to this school and this community," said Goose Creek principal Jimmy Huskey. "We went from being a homecoming game for every opponent from Week 2 to Week 11 to now a program that no team wants to schedule for homecoming. It's all because of coach Reedy. This community will sorely miss him."
Prior to Reedy's arrival, Goose Creek's program was among the worst in the state, winning only 13 games in the seven seasons prior to his hiring in 2002. Reedy was 1-10 in his first season and posted five wins in 2003. The coach ends his tenure with 11 consecutive winning seasons, including six straight seasons of double-digit victories.
Reedy, who served as the running backs coach at Clemson University during the school's run at the 1981 national championship, says winning the state championship at Goose Creek rates higher for him than the college national title.
"In terms of personal satisfaction, seeing where we came from as a program, I would say the state championship that we won is the thing I am most proud of," said Reedy, who also was the head coach at Baylor from 1993 to 1996. "To be able to share it with the community and with the players, to see how our football team impacted this community, that's hard to top.
"I coached 40 years - 20 in high school and 20 in college. I have been very fortunate and very blessed to have been involved with so many great people. I can, without any reservations, say the last 13 years have been the most rewarding, the most enjoyable years that I have had in the coaching profession. I have been truly blessed to be a part of Goose Creek High School and the Goose Creek community."
After winning the Division II-AAAA state title in 2011, the 2012 Gators were ranked No. 1 and won 13 consecutive games. A player eligibility issue resulted in the Gators being kicked out of the playoffs just before their state semifinal game.
The situation caused a huge public outcry, and Reedy, with the help of the Berkeley County School District, eventually was able to get changes made in the South Carolina High School League appeals process.
The way the 2012 season ended ranks as the most disappointing time of Reedy's tenure.
"Not many days go by that I don't think about that season and the way it ended for those kids," he said. "We had a state championship football team and it was taken away from our kids. The way the system is now, after the changes, our players would have had that opportunity to win another state championship. It won't ever happen to anyone else, so that's a good thing, but our kids deserved better than that.
"We won 38 straight games, but that will never be recognized because of the way things unfolded, unfairly in my opinion. To me, that's the sad part. Those kids deserve to be recognized as one of the best groups in our state's history."
Reedy, who owns six Subway restaurants in the state, will now turn his focus to opening a restaurant on University Boulevard near Charleston Southern University called the Comeback Shack, which specializes in high quality hamburgers.
"I am not retiring," Reedy said. "I am no longer going to be a football coach, but I have some business ventures that I have been involved in and I want to further pursue those opportunities. My wife (Debby) and I will certainly enjoy our lives together and we have a lot of things that we want to do. I am really excited about the future.
"For 40 years, my family has always taken a backseat, so to speak, to football, and it's time for me to enjoy life with them now. I will miss Friday nights, no question. But as much as I love remembering the past, I am really looking forward to the future."
Huskey indicated that a search for Reedy's replacement already is underway. A few members of the current coaching staff will apply for the position of head coach, and Huskey will accept open applications for a few weeks. He hopes to have a new coach in place before the end of February.
Leonard Covington, a 32-year member of the Goose Creek coaching staff, will serve as the school's interim coach.
"We want to continue to move forward as a program and we will work hard to find a coach that can continue the great work that coach Reedy has put in here," said Huskey. "We won't miss a beat. We will find the best man for the job."