JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s almost like Jeff Herron never left.
He’s got family in Kingsland. His children all went to school there. His sons, Major and Tyson, even still coach with the Camden County football team.
So, why not go back?
Herron, who spent 13 seasons at Camden County and won three state championships there, is coming back to Kingsland. The school announced on Monday morning that Herron had accepted the job that had been open for less than a month. Bob Sphire resigned on Feb. 4 to accept a position at Highlands High in Kentucky.
In a career that has taken him from one corner of Georgia to another, it’s the place that’s felt the most like home for Herron and his wife, Inka. Now an assistant coach at Tennessee Tech, Herron is headed back to the high school ranks for what may the the final journey on a remarkable career.
“It just really turned out to be a blessing for us, so having a chance to go back there certainly is exciting,” Herron said of his first tenure in Kingsland.
He has a 312-54 record and five state championships across six different high schools. He spent his time since retiring as a high school head coach following the 2018 season at T.L. Hanna in Anderson, S.C. as an assistant at Tennessee Tech. Herron said that he plans to honor his commitment to the college before getting to work full time with Camden County.
“People have made a big deal about this today to me, I’ve been so thankful for all the texts and phone calls and I haven’t gotten to most any of them because I’ve been sitting here breaking down Jacksonville State film all day,” Herron said. “The first time I came to Camden, any success that we had, I did not do that by myself. We had a whole lot of help from a whole lot of people. And that’s what it’s going to take again. And so I’m looking forward to that challenge and getting back there.”
Herron won 17 region championships in Georgia, as well as state titles at Oconee County and Grayson. Herron retired from high school coaching after two years at T.L. Hanna where he led the Yellow Jackets to a 25-2 record and one Upper State championship.
Herron said that the time after he retired from coaching in high school was tough. He said that he went to nine games as a fan that season at places he’d coached at, and the itch to return to the game was strong.
So, Herron segued back into coaching, but this time in the college ranks at Tennessee Tech. He took a job as an assistant coach there last year.
Tennessee Tech is playing football this spring. It opened its season last Sunday with a 27-21 win over Austin Peay. It has six games remaining on a schedule that was adjusted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“When I first talked to the Camden people about the job, I said look, I can’t leave here in the middle of the year,” Herron said. “My plan is to finish the season here and and honor this commitment. But you know, again, it’s a little bit different scenario for me because there’s still several guys on that coaching staff that coached with me, including my sons, and so I think they can kind of handle things with me doing Zoom meetings, whatever I got to do. I’ll be there as much as I can but I’ve still got to honor my commitment here.”
Herron is the most accomplished coach in Camden County history. From 2000-2012, he went 158-18 and led the Wildcats to three state championships (2003, ’08 and ’09) before leaving in January 2013 to take the head coaching job at Prince Avenue Christian.
“We are honored to have Coach Herron return to Camden County High School. Coach Herron has an enduring legacy of building football programs that produce not only state champions but also student-athletes who are defined by their outstanding character and sportsmanship,” Camden County High School principal Steve Loden said in a release. “We are excited for this next chapter in Camden County football and look forward to seeing our community turn out to support the Wildcats under the lights of Chris Gilman Stadium this fall.”