Jarrett Troxler found reassurance when he met his team Tuesday for the first time as its head coach.
Troxler, dressed in coat and tie and fresh from the Columbia County school board meeting where he was approved as Lakeside High School's next football coach, arrived at Sonic to a throng of Panthers football players who greeted him with applause and hugs.
"You've got this much support, it reassured me that this is the place for me," Troxler said after the scene settled and he found an empty booth.
The first-time head coach didn't have long to savor his new position. Before an offer was even made, he worked the phones to find who might be interested in joining his staff as an assistant.
Lakeside Athletic Director Donnie Burch said Troxler had two physical education openings, a history opening and a possible special education spot that could be used to bring on additional football staff.
Troxler said he reached out to a former colleague at Anson County (N.C.) High and a former teammate at Chowan College, where Troxler played football.
"I want a bunch of guys that want to be head coaches," Troxler said. "If you got people that want to be head coaches and want to work hard, that's one of the things I look for."
The philosophy is one shared by former Lakeside coach Jody Grooms, whom Troxler served under as an assistant first at Anson County and later at Lakeside. Troxler said he was offered a position at Wayne County High when Grooms left in February to become head football coach and athletic director. But Troxler, who married since coming to Evans, bought a house and had his first child this past year, decided he was home.
Troxler, who was the offensive coordinator in 2009, said the Panthers offensive philosophy would not change. Change might be required on defense, where Lakeside lost several significant pieces.
The Panthers will hold spring practice in May. Some of the questions could be resolved then.
"What we do here, it's not rocket science," Troxler said. "It's hard work, getting it done in the weight room and committing ourselves. That's something we'll continue to do while I'm here."
The point man for those things the past two years had been defensive coordinator and strength coach John Creager, who will join Grooms at Wayne County.
Troxler said he would need to choose a solid offensive line coach and defensive coordinator. He noted the school already had some high-quality coaches on staff.
Troxler said the focus for his players now should be on Glenn Hills, the Panthers' first opponent of 2010. The Panthers also play North Augusta and Statesboro, to name a few, next season. For Lakeside supporters, after experiencing their first taste of state playoff success in 2009, the bar has been set high for the new coach.
"We want to keep that success going," Burch said. "He knows it."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.