Falcons’ coach quits after 3-year losing streak

By Bobby Bryant, Editor, editor@newsandpress.net

Darlington High School varsity football coach John Jones Jr. ended three years of frustration on the field by resigning Nov. 19, and school officials will “immediately” start the search for a new coach.

Jones, whose Falcons football team had won only three games in the past three years, resigned his post “to pursue other coaching opportunities,” the Darlington County School District said in a news release last week. The district said he will continue his teaching responsibilities at DHS.

Jones was hired as coach in 2015 and after a promising 6-5 first season, endured three brutal years of mostly losses. His record was 3-28 for his last three years as coach; he lost his last 12 games. For all four seasons as coach, his record was 9-33.
Frustration with the Falcons’ gridiron struggles even surfaced during an Oct. 29 meeting of city, county and school district officials.

During the meeting, Darlington City Manager Howard Garland said the Falcons’ struggles were not a trivial issue for many Darlington residents. “We are hungry for something we can root for,” Garland said.

In the school district’s news release, Darlington High School Principal Cortney Gehrke said: “We appreciate the four years Coach Jones spent with our Falcon family. He has worked hard to share his passion, vision and determination with our students.”

Jones took the coaching job in 2015 amid high hopes. He had been football coach in Sumter. “Coach Jones is a great coach for our school and community,” said Phil Jones, then athletics director at Darlington High School. “He’s a proven winner, hard worker and really cares for the kids. The athletic department fully supports coach Jones, and we believe he will make our Falcons championship contenders.”

Jones also worked at West Florence High School, where he had once been a student. The (Florence) Morning News quoted former West Florence player Garrett Chapman as saying of Jones: “Coach Jones is one of the most competitive coaches I’ve ever played for. He drives you every day to be a better player as well as a better individual. I had some of the best times of my life playing for Coach Jones. He’s not only a great coach, but also a great human being.”

After the Falcons lost to the Hartsville Red Foxes on Darlington High School’s Senior Night in October, Jones tried to put another frustrating season in perspective. “It’s kind of like the tale all year,” he said. “It seems like you go back to Myrtle Beach, you go back to all these real good teams, all the ones that we are hanging in there, fighting and it’s close – it’s like one play changes everything.”

Author: Rachel Howell

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