At his first practice with the Summerville Green Wave varsity, Joe Call made a mistake.
“I yelled, ‘Granddad, Granddad!’ ” at legendary football coach John McKissick, recalled Call, who just happens to be McKissick’s grandson.
“He turned around and said, ‘Start running,’ ” Call said in a 2004 article in The Post and Courier. “Later, he told me that when we’re on the field, he was Coach.”
Almost 20 years after that practice, Joe Call could be the heir apparent to the coaching legacy of his grandfather, who reportedly is pondering retirement after 63 seasons at the helm of Green Wave football.
McKissick, 88, confirmed Sunday night that he is considering retiring, saying that “I feel like my age is catching up to me.” He would leave the game as the winningest coach on any level, with a record of 621-156-13 and 10 state championships.
McKissick said Monday that he has scheduled a Tuesday morning meeting with Dorchester School District 2 superintendent Joe Pye to discuss his plans.
“If we can reach an agreement for me to stay, I’ll stay,” McKissick said Tuesday. “If we can reach an agreement for me to go, then I’ll go.”
Initial reports said that Call, who played quarterback for his grandfather at Summerville and has been a Green Wave assistant since 2003 and offensive coordinator since 2007, would take over as interim coach. That seems logical, as practice for the 2015 season starts on July 31.
Call also would likely be a candidate for the job on a permanent basis, though the head coaching job at Summerville will attract top-drawer candidates from around the state and nation.
It’s something that Call, who was not available for comment Monday, has clearly thought about.
“Growing up and coaching in it, I saw the mold that he has built,” Call said in a 2011 USA Today profile of McKissick. “I don’t want to see someone come in and change it. He loves Summerville football. I’d be honored to continue that. If I’m fortunate enough for them to ask me, I’d be 100 percent. If that happens, that’s my dream.”
Call, now 36, played quarterback for Summerville from 1994-97, starting for most of his four seasons. His ability as a passer prompted McKissick to go with what he called a “Green Gun” offense in 1995.
McKissick warned Call that playing quarterback for his grandfather would draw attention, not all of it good.
“I remember going into my freshman year, he set me down and told me I was going to catch a lot of grief and I’d have to develop a thick skin,” said Call, one was one of three McKissick grandsons to play for the famed coach.
Call went on to play quarterback for The Citadel from 1998-2001, playing for head coaches Don Powers and Ellis Johnson on teams that won just 12 games in four years. He also played for four offensive coordinators in four years.
But even then, Call was thinking ahead to his coaching career.
”In the long run, I know that I want to go into coaching, so I think this will help me,” Call said before his senior season. “If I get to a different school here or there, I think I will have a little bit of knowledge of what they are doing.
“I’ve been fortunate to have to learn five or six offenses in my career,” he said. “Or maybe it’s been unfortunate.”
As the Green Wave’s offensive coordinator, Call has worked to keep Summerville abreast of modern football, running a spread option with plenty of “run-pass option” plays.
“We spread the field to try to run the ball,” he said recently.
Call also has been delivering locker-room speeches for years. One memorable pep talk came before a game against rival Berkeley in 1997.
“Joe talked to us before the game and got us all pumped up,” teammate Tank Bryant said after a 24-13 victory. “And we went out and won it.”