After coaching running backs and special teams on last season’s Spring Valley High team that went 12-1, Jahmaal Nelson has been named the new football coach at Ridgeland-Hardeeville High.
“I’ve been a candidate for a head coaching job at a couple of other places,” Nelson said. “This seemed like the right fit for me, the place and the time right now where I need to be and God needs me to be. A head coaching position has always been a dream of mine.”
Nelson, who coached running backs, special teams and defensive backs for the past seven years at Spring Valley, is under a temporary contract until the school board meets in August and approves his teaching position.
Nelson will replace Blake Raley, who resigned June 10.
“Coach Raley has left behind a great legacy,” Nelson said. “It’s a new era now, and I’m going to try and continue to instill the values that he put in place. It’s a little bit of a late start.”
Nelson was offered the coaching position June 26, the last day before the district’s mandatory week off for the July Fourth holiday. He has been in the district this week to meet coaches and players.
“We felt that coach Nelson was the right one to lead our football team, not only on the field, but in the classroom, as well,” Jasper County athletics director Michael Jordan said.
Jordan was not concerned that Nelson had no head coaching experience.
“You can’t have experience if you don’t have a chance,” Jordan said. “Look at where he was at, Spring Valley, one of the top programs in the state. I had a chance to watch them play last season. They do things right way, a very well run program. It’s also my job to assist him a much as I can.”
Nelson has taught special education for the past 10 years and expects to do the same at Ridgeland-Hardeeville.