For Jeff Cruce, taking the Berkeley head football coaching job was all about family.

Cruce's first coaching job in the Lowcountry was at Berkeley High School. He came to Moncks Corner in 1994 and was an assistant coach on Jerry Brown's staff.

"So this is a homecoming," said Cruce, who has spent the last three seasons at Cane Bay. "I left there, so it's just like going home to be with family. I'm excited about the opportunity. In my opinion, the Berkeley job is one of the top 10 in the state."

Cruce replaces Brown, who was named the athletic director at Fairfield Central last month. Brown coached the Stags for 18 years and led them to three state championships.

The 49-year-old Cruce, who will also serve as the Stags' athletic director, said the return to Moncks Corner will allow him to spend more time with his wife, Wendy.

"She works for Santee Cooper in Moncks Corner, so this will allow me to see her a couple more times a week than I usually would," Cruce said. "I had to make a family decision. My children are grown, and my daughter (Heyward) is getting married Saturday. The timing is a little stressful with spring practice, but I can't neglect what's best for my family."

Cruce coached running backs, quarterbacks and linebackers at Berkeley and helped develop such players as quarterback Dontae Addison, running back Rusty Williams and linebacker Derrick Dingle. The trio helped lead the Stags to a state championship in 1994.

Cruce was named head coach at Hanahan in 1995 and coached the Corner will allow him to spend more time with his wife, Wendy.

"She works for Santee Cooper in Moncks Corner, so this will allow me to see her a couple more times a week than I usually would," Cruce said. "I had to make a family decision. My children are grown, and my daughter (Heyward) is getting married Saturday. The timing is a little stressful with spring practice, but I can't neglect what's best for my family."

Cruce coached running backs, quarterbacks and linebackers at Berkeley and helped develop such players as quarterback Dontae Addison, running back Rusty Williams and linebacker Derrick Dingle. The trio helped lead the Stags to a state championship in 1994.

Cruce was named head coach at Hanahan in 1995 and coached the Hawks for 13 years. He took over a struggling football program and turned it into one of the most successful Class AA programs in the state, winning 10 straight region championships and 112 games after going winless in his first season.

Cruce's best season came in 1997, when Hanahan reached the second round of the playoffs.

The Hawks went 11-1 and allowed only one touchdown the entire season.

Cruce was named the Cane Bay coach in 2008, the year the school opened its doors. He compiled a 14-20 record, including 7-5 last fall.

"I'm excited about this opportunity," Cruce said. "I will be replacing a legend and want to continue what Jerry and Gerald Moody did. They say you don't want to replace a legend, but it makes it a lot easier when that legend is your best friend."

Reach Philip M. Bowman at pbowman@postandcourier.com or at 937-5592. Follow him on Twitter: @pandcphil.