Two of the Lowcountry’s most successful high school football programs in the last decade officially ushered in a new era on Friday morning. One did so with little fanfare and little change, while another did so with dramatic and obvious differences.
Goose Creek’s new head coach, Chris Candor, replaces the school’s most successful coach — Chuck Reedy, while Summerville interim head coach Joe Call replaces the winningest coach in the history of football — John McKissick.
In the case of Candor and Goose Creek, the only noticeable change was the man blowing the whistle. Candor says there are some changes within the program, but few fans will notice.
“We have a good product and we’ve been very successful so you won’t see a lot of changes,” said Candor, who came to Goose Creek as the defensive coordinator in 2006. “We will get back to the basics — try to be fundamentally sound and continue to be a competitive program. We want to get back to what we built this program on — hard work and commitment.
“I feel like we have a lot of excitement here. We miss coach Reedy and certainly have a great deal of respect for what he has done here, but change is good. The kids are responding very well. Our coaches have new roles so they are excited. The level of enthusiasm is very high.”
Candor assumed his duties as head coach in March, which is in stark contrast to Call’s situation at Summerville. Call was named interim coach six weeks ago and has had to work overtime to get his coaching staff in place and on the same page.
“Everything has happened so fast, but we’ve adjusted well,” Call said. “I’ve always had ideas of things I wanted to change or tweak if this opportunity ever presented itself. The thing is we’ve had to make changes in a hurry. We met a lot over the last six weeks and we have a plan. I woke up today excited and ready to go with no hesitation.”
Candor says he also slept well the night before the first practice. Having time to prepare eased his mind heading into the start of preseason drills.
“We’ve had four months to get ready for this day and honestly there has been more stress over the last four months, just to get ready for today,” Candor said. “I feel good. I am glad it has started for us and we’re looking forward to the season.”
At Summerville, practices are remarkably different than they have been during McKissick’s 63-year run as head coach. Music can be heard playing from a sound system throughout practice. Practices are now scripted with 18 five-minute periods.
Call is respectful of what his grandfather accomplished with the program — 621 victories and 10 state championships. At the same time, he feels the players within the program are ready for a new and fresh approach. In the end, he says, it’s about Green Wave football.
“This is not about me. This is about Summerville High School,” Call said. “It’s about our tradition, the green and gold and the oval S. It’s about us getting better together every day. We’re a young football team, and not much is expected from us, but at Summerville we are going to always have high expectations.
“This is my dream job — from the time I was a ball boy. I always knew I wanted to be a coach and I wanted to be here. To be able to get out here today, blow that first whistle, and then be able to address these kids for the first time, it was very special. Best first day I’ve ever had as a player or coach.”
Candor and Call join a list of five first-time high school head coaches in the area this season. Former Stratford offensive coordinator Dennie McDaniel begins his tenure as the head coach at St. John’s High School, while Matt Manning is a first-year head coach at Palmetto Christian Academy. Robert Henneman takes over the program at Cathedral Academy.
Burke also has a new head coach in former Chester High head coach Anthony Sterling assumes duties for the 2015 season.