The "magic" continued Sunday with a city parade held in honor of the state champion Jefferson High School football team and its coach T. McFerrin, who announced his retirement last week.
McFerrin told his coaches and players during a meeting Jan. 3 he would not coach the team next season. He ends his career with 340 wins, 102 losses and four ties overall. The win total makes him one of Georgia’s most winning coaches.
“This is it. I think the time is right,” McFerrin said. “I’ll be at the games, but I won’t be on the sidelines.”
Principal Kevin Smith said Monday there was nothing to report on who McFerrin’s replacement will be.
However, Smith does expect coaches currently tied to the football program will be among the candidates to put in for the job.
“We want to fill the position as soon as we possibly can, but we are still in a celebratory situation,” Smith said. “Coach McFerrin will be a very difficult act to follow. He has done a fantastic, a marvelous job building it to where it is now, and we obviously want to maintain that.”
Smith and superintendent John Jackson knew of McFerrin’s desire to retire for good before the season started. No more discussions on the subject took place until after the title game on Dec. 15 game, they said.
Jefferson shocked Class AA with its 31-14 defeat of Calhoun for the school’s first championship in the sport. The outcome concluded a season Smith and many others in the city have viewed as “magical.”
That McFerrin ended his 38-year coaching career on top of his game is yet another aspect to the surprising story, the principal said.
“I’m proud of him, proud of the team and the kids and what they were able to accomplish,” Smith said. “He is in the great, great position to retire on top. That is one of the things that a lot of coaches, any person would like, to leave their profession at the top. Coach McFerrin was able to do that. We are appreciative and proud that he was able to do that. What a storybook finish.”
McFerrin, 70, first retired in 2004. He returned to the profession to lead Jefferson’s team in 2009 at Jackson’s request. The men worked together in Elbert County, where McFerrin’s won his other state title in 1995.
At JHS, McFerrin earned a 39-9 record during his four years at the helm, including two region championships, three playoff berths and one state title.
Some of the players sensed this might be their coach’s last year but wondered if winning a state championship would pull him into another season.
“We definitely knew it was a possibility,” said junior Jordan Tyler, the team’s starting center. “We talked about it and wondered if he would do it. We weren’t so sure after we won state.”
McFerrin’s knowledge of the game combined with his motivation in the wake of this season’s lowest point is something Tyler pointed to as showing what kind of coach he was.
“After we lost to Commerce, we weren’t really sure how the season was going to go,” Tyler said. “He told us to that this was the deciding point of the season, whether we were going to win the next few games, make the most out of this season or hang our heads and pout about losing to Commerce. We went off of those words and just turned our season around.”
The score of that game — 22-7 — remained posted on the locker room wall as a reminder of a feeling no Dragon wanted to relive. Commerce was the only team that beat Jefferson (14-1).
“(We) pointed that out every few weeks saying we don’t want to feel that way again and that pretty much motivated us through out the season,” Tyler said.
Right now, any worries about what will happen next as far as head coaches go is minimal compared with celebrating the recent title.
Talk about preparing for next season has started with weight training and conditioning targets beginning discussed, or taking shape.
The objective overall is clearer than ever: Stay the course.
“I talked to one of my other coaches a couple of days ago,” Tyler said. “He said, ‘Everything is going to be fine, that we need to keep moving ahead with starting to get ready for next season.’ ”
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
The author does not allow comments to this entry