AJ football coach resigns; takes job at North Central

-A A +A
By Robert Howey

KERSHAW – For the second time in 15 months, Andrew Jackson High School is looking to hire a new head football coach.

Louis Clyburn, hired to lead the Volunteers’ football program in January 2008, is leaving the Lancaster County Class AA high school after one season.

Clyburn, who led AJ to a 5-5 regular-season record and a Class AA Upper State postseason bid after a third-place finish in Conference IV-AA, was introduced as the head football coach and athletic director at North Central High School, Class A school in Kershaw County, Tuesday night.

Clyburn, a Camden native, replaces Heath Springs native Ron Blackmon, who resigned as the Knights’ football coach and athletic director on Feb. 18.

Blackmon, a 26-year coaching veteran, has spent the last eight seasons at North Central.

Prior to becoming the Knights’ head coach in 2001, Blackmon was an assistant at North Central for two seasons.

AJ athletic director Dale Reeves said Clyburn submitted his resignation Friday.

“It really was a difficult decision for coach Clyburn,” Reeves said.

Reeves said a salary increase, with Clyburn serving as the Knights’ athletic director in addition to head football coach, was a key consideration to accept the job.

Reeves said the Volunteers have begun the search to replace Clyburn.

The job will be advertised through the Lancaster County School District’s personnel office.  It was also listed on the S.C. Coaches Association Web site this week.

“The word gets out quickly and we’ve already had a number of inquiries about the job,” Reeves said. “I feel we will attract a good number of quality candidates.”

When Clyburn was hired, he was selected from a field of more than 55 candidates. He was one of seven applicants interviewed for the AJ job.

Prior to coming to AJ, Clyburn had 13 years of coaching experience in college football, including two at Elon University in Elon, N.C.

Clyburn was out of coaching for the 2007 season, serving as the Elon assistant director of athletics for ticket operation and event management. While out of coaching that season, Clyburn considered his future coaching options.

Prior to coaching at Elon, Clyburn coached at Appalachian State University, Duke University and Lenoir Rhyne University.

Clyburn led the 2008 Vols to their best record-season finish since a 6-6 mark in 2004. He saw AJ produce 11 all-region selections, including seven first-team selections. The 2008 season saw AJ also smash 22 offensive records.

Clyburn also placed a strong emphasis on the school’s weight program.

AJ had 12 of 14 athletes qualify for the 2009 state strength meet, including two region champs and two runners-up at the region meet at Lugoff-Elgin High School. Two athletes placed in the top 10 of their respective weight classes.

In 2008, AJ had only two athletes qualify for the state meet.

Clyburn replaced Ernie Hughes at AJ. Hughes resigned in November 2007 after posting a 20-35 mark and four playoff berths in five seasons. Hughes is now an assistant coach at Northwestern High School in Rock Hill.

As a high school football player, Clyburn lettered three seasons at Camden High School and was selected to the 1989 Shrine Bowl and captained the S.C. squad. Clyburn was selected as The State newspaper’s 1989 Lineman of the Year. A 1994 graduate of Duke University, Clyburn was a four-year football letterman for the Blue Devils.

Moore in as interim coach

Reeves said David Moore will serve as the Vols’ interim head coach with the specific duty of leading the AJ athletes in the school’s weight program. Moore, the Vols’ defensive coordinator, teaches physical education at Heath Springs Elementary.

Reeves doesn’t have a timetable for naming a coach, but hopes to get it done as soon as possible.

Contact sports editor Robert Howey at rhowey@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1157