FLORENCE, S.C. – The Morning News covers 35 prep football teams (37 high schools, overall). Twelve of those football teams have new coaches.
Chad Wilkes and Charlie Richards are two of them, taking over at Lamar and Hemingway, respectively.
It just so happens their teams also start the season against each other on Friday.
So why not catch up with the two coaches and find out how their transitions are going?
After spending his first two years of coaching at C.E. Murray, Wilkes is now settling in at Lamar.
After being asked if making this kind of move is easier the second time around, Wilkes answered.
“It’s not easier from a standpoint of what you have to do to be successful,” Wilkes said. “You’re still running into the same traditional issues and those things. But now I would say I handle it better outwardly. And I don’t feel as stressed or anxious and all those things as I did before.”
As for Richards, he served one season as Keenan’s interim coach in 2015, in which his team went 6-5. Richards is now settling in at Hemingway, which will have its third coach in three years. (Greg Lawson resigned after the 2017 season, and Al Calcutt coached last fall.)
He was asked the same question as Wilkes.
“It’s one of those things you can say you’re ready, but it’s kind of like marriage. You never know what you’re actually going to get until you actually do it,” Richards said with a laugh. “But once you do it, you’ve really figured it out. From that one year, I was a lot more prepared to say, ‘Worry about this, make sure to handle this.’ So I knew this time around what to look for, so that’s how I’m preparing myself for this upcoming season.”
From the time the players and new coaches meet, it’s as important to build trust as a game plan.
“It takes time to where coaches can get to where they trust the players and players get to where they can trust the coaches,” Wilkes said. “I’m a pretty hard-nosed coach, but I don’t come in on Day 1 ranting and raving about every little thing. For me, I come in wanting to build relationships first to get them where they trust me so they know when I’m ranting and raving, it’s because I want them to get better.”
It’s also important to become coach before spring practice. In 2015, Lawson was hired in early July.
“I made sure in late April and May to get to the school and let the kids see me,” Richards said. “So when it comes to summertime workouts, they understand what I’m looking for and how to do things. So the transition wasn’t really bad at all. It was smooth.
“Spring was productive, smooth. We didn’t wear pads, but the biggest thing was starting in the weight room in May and for them to understand my expectations there.”