Departing Lakeside baseball coach Jay Matthews said that he hopes his replacement comes from within the school but that he knows it is likely out of his control.
Interim athletic director Tim Reeve said last week he would interview Matthews' three assistants -- Jon Johnson, James Gaddy and T.J. Davis.
A decision is expected this week.
"All three would make a good head coach," Reeve said.
With rumors about Matthews' future swirling before spring break, he told his players during the season he had applied for a job at Riverside Middle School. He accepted an offer following spring break to teach and coach baseball at the school beginning in the fall.
Matthews' career as a coach and player at Lakeside spanned 19 years.
"It's an opportunity to continue to coach and work with kids, but in the same sense, you don't have the 12-month commitment it takes for the high-school program," he said. "It's something, when my kids get a little bit older, I may give another shot."
Matthews is the second coach to leave Lakeside this year. Assistant football coach and head wrestling coach Randy Hill accepted an offer to coach at East Jackson High School in Commerce, Ga., next season.
Matthew's team finished 10-14 during his fourth season as Lakeside's coach. The Panthers beat Greenbrier and previously undefeated Aquinas during a four-game streak that proved the highlight of their season. The streak put Matthews' team in position to play for the No. 2 seed and a home date in the Region 3-AAAA playoffs, but a loss to Evans in the final week dropped the Panthers to third.
They lost a road series to Effingham County and missed the Class AAAA state playoffs for a second consecutive season.
Matthews said the wins and losses didn't play into his decision. And those who know the coach had nothing but praise for him upon hearing of his departure.
"I know he's got his reasons for wanting to get out of there right now," Evans coach Ricky Beale said. "A lot of that's family -- you're just trying to spend some more time at home. Jay's a competitor. It will be different going over there and not seeing him in a Lakeside uniform."
The question remains as to whether Matthews will make a return to coaching at the high-school level.
"If he don't, it will be a travesty," Harlem coach Jimmie Lewis said. "He needs to be in the high-school ranks somewhere, because he's a dang good coach."
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