KINGSLAND — Camden County High School’s new head football coach, Bob Sphire, knows players and coaches will face a learning curve once he takes over the program Feb. 1.
“It’s going to be a culture shock change to what they are doing,” Sphire said in a phone interview Thursday.
The new coach said he plans to be in Kingsland today to meet his new team for the first time.
The transition to a high-flying, fast-paced offense is not unfamiliar territory for Sphire. During his early days as a head football coach in Lexington, Ky., he made the transition from a Wing-T offense, the system used in Camden County the past two decades. His new, exciting offensive system attracted more athletes to try out for the team, he said.
“There were kids playing in the program who would have never come on the field (because of the spread offense),” he said. “The beauty of our system is we can tweak it to the talent we have.”
During a visit to the sprawling Camden campus over the Christmas holidays, Sphire said he was impressed with the playing field, weight room and other training facilities. While the school’s facilities helped convince him to accept the job, Sphire said it takes a lot more to build a winning program.
“Players win championships, not facilities,” he said. “It’s all in how you practice, teach technique on the front end. We all know every team has a process.”
Another selling point was that Camden only has one high school, which makes it easier to recruit, evaluate and keep talent. The county also has an enthusiastic fan base and booster support group.
“It’s nice to know when you are going to a place where they care about football,” he said.
Sphire couldn’t say how long it will take the players and coaches to get comfortable with the new offense.
“I just want to get better every day,” he said.
He said he looks forward to competing in the state’s toughest region for football and taking on top teams outside the area.
“I’m never one to duck tough competitions,” he said. “I’ve always tried to pick fights with heavyweights.”
Allen Rassi, former president and longtime member of the Camden County Quarterback Club, said he and fellow boosters are excited about the coaching change. Sphire replaces Welton Coffey, who was promoted to athletic director, replacing Gary Blount, who is retiring at the end of the school year.
Rassi said no boosters were part of the selection process, but they were very happy the job opening attracted so much attention. About 30 applicants with prior head coaching experience applied when the position was advertised in December.
“We were very happy with the number of applicants,” he said. “Everything went really well this time.”
In February 2013, head coach Jeff Herron unexpectedly resigned for another job and only a handful of applied for the vacancy, despite Camden being considered one of the top programs in the state the past two decades.
Herron had a 158-18 record and three state championships during his 13 years as Camden’s head coach. Rassi said the team’s success and the late decision by Herron to resign made it difficult to attract candidates for the job four years ago.
“Who wants to follow in Jeff Herron’s footsteps?” Rassi asked.
It’s difficult to say what realistic expectations fans should have with a new coach implementing a new system, but Rassi said it will be exciting.
“We have a lot of talent coming up the next couple of years,” he said. “It’s going to be fun.”