As Rhett Stanley hauled in his seventh reception during an Oct. 28 home football game against Statesboro, he tied the Greenbrier High School record with 159 receiving yards in a game.
That his outstanding performance came in head coach Brian Smith’s second-to-last game at the helm was significant, even if neither the player nor the coach knew it at the time.
The senior was a member of the first batch of freshmen Smith coached at the school when he took over in 2008.
On Wednesday, Smith told his players and his coaching staff of his decision to resign at the end of the 2011 season.
“I just think he’s a great guy,” Stanley said. “His faith in God is sound, and I think he brings that onto the field.
“He just wants to make you the best player you are,” he continued. “Even if you might not get in every play, he still wants to develop you as a player. And I think that’s something special.”
Smith, who will remain in his role as teacher of technology at the school, said he’d been considering the move for some time.
“The bottom line is you never want to look back and regret anything,” he said.
Smith, who had a 12-27 record at Greenbrier heading into this past Friday night’s season finale against Wayne County, did not rule out a return to coaching.
“There was no pressure or anything,” he said. “It’s just time for me right now to step away. I tell my kids all the time, faith, family, football in that order.
“I’m going to take a breather and focus on faith and family right now.”
The family includes his wife, Sheri, and their four children – twins Hunter (Berry College) and Taylor (Clemson); Luke, 14; and Shelby, 11.
He said the move might allow him the chance to visit Hunter and Taylor more often.
After spending eight years at North Augusta High School, Smith left his post as defensive coordinator there to come to Greenbrier.
Smith said the program has faced some adversity during his tenure.
In his first year, the school moved into the state’s highest classification – Class AAAAA – and was tasked with facing some of the state’s top teams in the Metro Atlanta area for two years.
“The first two years, bam, we’re in AAAAA,” Greenbrier Athletic Director Garrett Black said. “In the second year of AAAAA, after Grovetown opened, it reduced our student population … by at least 1,000 kids. We were playing schools twice our size.”
The Wolfpack have been in Class AAAA the past two years.
“These kids have made a lot of strides and improved every year,” Smith said.
“I think they’re sitting really good for the future,” he said of the program. “I only think it’s going to get better.”
Black said he will meet soon with Principal Chris Segraves to discuss the future of the program.
“We’ll get together within the next two weeks, sit down and see where we’re going,” Black said.
“We want to put a timeline together because we want to get the best person we can to lead our football program,” he noted. “This is a very important hire in our school and in our community.”
Black recognized Smith for the time and effort he’s devoted.
“I appreciate everything that coach Smith has done for our football program and for the kids,” Black said.