Tuesday, February 18, 2014
North Augusta High School is looking for a new head coach for the football team and athletic director.
Dan Pippin was accepted unanimously by the Greenwood High School board of directors on Monday evening. He will replace Gene Cathcart, who left the Eagles to coach at Seneca High School, which is closer to his children.
At North Augusta, Pippin guided the Yellow Jackets to a 70-33 overall record and seven appearances in the postseason. Under Pippin, North Augusta went 8-7 in the playoffs and only failed to qualify for them in his first season as the head coach of the Jackets. He racked up two region championships – in 2010 and 2013, and was the region runner-up three times. Pippin has also led the Jackets to the state semifinals on three occasions – including this season when the they went 12-2 before losing to eventual Class AAAA, Division II state champion Northwestern.
“It was extremely hard,” Pippin said. “Probably the hardest decision I've ever had to make professionally. It wasn't just for me, but also my family. North Augusta will always be special to me and my family.”
In addition to all of the success North Augusta enjoyed this past season, Pippin also served as the offensive coordinator for the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, and he coached the South Carolina team in the inaugural Border Bowl in Augusta.
The start of his tenure at North Augusta wasn't as successful, as Pippin went 1-10 in his first season after coming on board from South Aiken High School. He quickly improved that mark to 6-6 the very next year, qualifying for the playoffs for the first of seven consecutive seasons.
Greenwood also is a place with which Pippin is quite familiar. In 2012, the then-undefeated Eagles got a last-second field goal for a 34-32 playoff win over the Jackets. Greenwood would later cap off their banner year with a win over Northwestern, 31-24, in the state championship game.
The Jackets also were knocked out by the Eagles in 2010, 34-21, at the same level. Northwestern upended Greenwood for the title that year, 42-10, to cap off an undefeated season.
Pippin said that there were “only a couple of places” that he would leave the Jackets Nest for. The Greenwood job, with its rich tradition and history, was a major factor for luring him away.
This year, the Jackets had seven seniors sign to play college football on National Signing Day.
The class was highlighted by two Division I FBS signers – offensive lineman Jake Whitley to Georgia Tech and defensive lineman Brandon Maddox to the Air Force Academy. In addition, two former players for Pippin – Jaylon Myers (West Virginia) and Montez McGuire (Appalachian State) – finished their degrees at two-year schools before moving on to college football's highest level.
That said, the team will return a number of key players. Junior quarterback Trib Reece, who led the area in almost all statistical categories, will return. Sophomore running back Rashad Byrd is a player who has had a lot of buzz and won team MVP honors on a JV squad that went 8-0-1.
Pippin said that because the decision was unofficial until Monday night that he had not discussed what coaches would be accompanying him. He did say that he had discussions with a few he thought would be good fits. However, he was quick to point out that Greenwood had an “excellent staff” already in place. He also said the job was one that he believes can draw coaches from all around the state if needed.
Pippin also took the time to thank the City of North Augusta, and North Augusta High School, for the opportunity.
“Can't thank people of North Augusta enough,” said Pippin, who doesn't have an official final day at the school. “We've made football there kind of a happening. I think we changed a lot of the culture. I think we changed the culture of the school for the better. There are some people who may disagree with that, but I think we changed things for the better.”
Scott Rodgers is the news editor at The North Augusta Star and has been with the paper since January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @NAStarRodgers.
PIPPIN'S N.A. TENURE BY THE NUMBERS
8-7 in playoffs
7 playoff appearances in 8 seasons overall (only missing in his first year)
2 Region championships
3 times runner-up in region
3 times advanced to state semifinals
* Qualified for playoffs
^ won region title