CHAPEL HILL — For the second time in barely a year, East Chapel Hill High School is looking for a new football head coach.
Wildcat head coach Jon Sherman, who took over for Bill Renner in 2013, told the East Chapel Hill players on Tuesday that he was leaving at the end of the school year. He met with team members in a brief but emotional meeting in the school gym after classes.
“I may have gotten a little choked up,” Sherman said.
“The one thing I didn’t want them to think was that I didn’t care about them, because I do.”
East Chapel Hill finished 3-8 in its one season under Sherman, who was in his first head coaching job.
Sherman, 32, originally from Naples, Fla., expects to return to Fayetteville, where he plans to serve as associate head coach and offensive coordinator at Fayetteville Byrd under first-year head coach Scott Barbour.
“My coaching roots are in Fayetteville,” Sherman said. “I’m going back to a place I’m going to be with a lot of my friends.”
Barbour was announced as head coach at Byrd, his high school alma mater, in mid-April. Previously, he and Sherman worked together on the staff at Fayetteville Jack Britt.
Britt was Sherman’s first job after playing four years at Methodist University and earning a political sciences degree in December 2005. He coached wide receivers two years at Britt, including the 2008 season in which Britt reached the state championship game. He then coached receivers two years at Methodist.
Sherman came to East Chapel Hill for the 2012 season and moved up to head coach after Renner resigned at the end of the season.
In his last of three years at East, Renner had led the 2012 Wildcats to a record of 5-5 overall and 3-3 in PAC-6 games, their most conference wins ever.
The 2013 Wildcats under Sherman were plagued with a series of injuries – losing 17 starters over the course of the season – and struggled to a 3-8 finish, 2-3 in the PAC-6. Sherman said that the team’s dogged fight to win two of their last three games was a highlight of the year.
“They never quit, ever,” Sherman said. “The kids faced a lot of adversity, but they never quit fighting.
“They fought to the end. I’ll always remember that, and I’ll always be proud of that. We lost some games, but we never lost the team.”
Sherman said the team’s reaction to his announcement exemplified their spirit. Given the choice of working out or going home, “the vast majority went straight to the weight room,” Sherman said.
Sherman, who also teaches civics and history at East Chapel Hill, said he told the school’s administration so late in the school year because he had just made up is mind after many nights of self-debate.
“It seems like short notice I know,” Sherman said Wednesday, “But I only made the final decision last night. ... It was a very difficult decision.”