Reggie Kennedy’s coaching career is taking an about face.
Kennedy said Wednesday morning he’s agreed to return to Fairfield Central as athletics director and head football coach.
Kennedy spent the last two seasons in the same position at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High. He was Fairfield Central’s coach and athletics director from 2002-05, where he coached the Griffins to 22 wins in 25 games over his last two seasons at the school.
With an 11-year-old daughter enrolled in Richland 2 schools, Kennedy continued to live in Northeast Richland even after taking the Orangeburg-Wilkinson job.
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The strain of a 66-mile one-way commute each day became too much of a burden.
``This gets me closer back to home,'' Kennedy said. ``The last two years I was away from my family a lot.''
A 13-year coaching veteran with a career record of 88-61, Kennedy’s record at Orangeburg-Wilkinson was 9-14. The Bruins went 5-6 last season, missing the Class 4A playoffs.
An S.C. State graduate who was an all-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference player for legendary Bulldogs coach Willie Jeffries, the 39-year-old Kennedy began his head-coaching career at Kingstree.
He immediately elevated a program that had won 20 games in the previous 13 seasons into a perennial winner. The Jaguars went 48-31 in six seasons under Kennedy, winning a pair of region championships.
In 2002, he was hired at Fairfield Central, where he compiled a 31-16 record in four seasons.
The lure of a Class 4A program and a chance to coach in the city where he played college football drew him to Orangeburg-Wilkinson in 2006. Even though he's reversing that decision now, he's still glad he made the move initially.
``I have no regrets with the move at all when I came here,'' Kennedy said. ``I got an opportunity to coach some of the best athletes in the state.''
After his new contract was approved by the Fairfield School District on Tuesday night, Kennedy met with his Orangeburg-Wilkinson players on Wednesday morning.
Saying goodbye to them and to others in Orangeburg isn't easy, he said.
``The superintendent was real good to be while I was here,'' Kennedy said. ``The school board and the community were good to me and I’m really going to miss it.’’
At the same time, he'll see familiar faces at Fairfield Central. Next year's seniors were ninth graders the last time Kennedy coached the Griffins.
``It’s kind like going back home,'' Kennedy said.
Kennedy said former coach Tommy Brown, who was fired last month after going 12-11 in two seasons, left a program with plenty of talent.
``He left a lot returning,'' Kennedy said. ``There are high expectations for next season.’’