High School Sports

Jennings out as football coach at Ridge View

Ridge View High School head football coach Raymond Jennings, who led the Blazers for the past 11 seasons, was relieved of his duties Tuesday, athletics director David Gordon said.

“The administration felt like it was time for the football program to go in another direction,” Gordon said. “We appreciate everything that coach Jennings and his staff have done.

“ … He’s affected the lives of a lot of young men in a positive way and has been an upstanding member of our school community. But at this point in time, we felt like the program and the progression of the program needed to go in another direction.”

Jennings, only the second coach in the school’s history, started at Ridge View as an assistant coach under Kirk Burnett. His time as head coach began with promise. The Blazers made the playoffs in each of his first five seasons beginning in 2004, which included a 10-3 campaign in 2006 and an appearance in the Class 4A semifinals in 2007.

But Ridge View has not had a winning season since 2007 and has won more than three games once in that time, a 6-6 mark in 2012 which ended with a 7-0 loss to Irmo in the playoffs.

“Raymond Jennings is a quality person and a great professional,” Gordon said. “He’s always conducted himself from the first day that I began working with him as a coach until now as a man of high moral standards. In this situation, he handled it very professionally.”

Gordon would not speculate on whether Jennings planned on staying with the school in his teaching responsibilities. The coach could not immediately be reached for comment on this story.

Jennings’ program suffered during the creation of a pair of nearby high schools in Blythewood and Westwood, each of which landed would-be Blazers in the process. That has aided each team, as the Bengals claimed a state championship in 2006 while the Redhawks are 10-1 this season.

“When you have two transitions of high schools that came off of your school, obviously that presents challenges,” Gordon said.

Jennings, who won 32 of his first 52 games with the program, finished with a 55-76 mark. The Blazers have lost 56 of their last 79 games dating back to the 2008 season.

Gordon hopes to have a new coach in place as soon as possible. It is also likely the candidate will teach on campus, he said. Applications are being accepted by the school district.

“What we hope to get is somebody that will help to grow our program and put us in the position where we feel like we can compete week in and week out for region championships and state titles,” he said. “That’s the goal. So we’re looking for the coach that can put us on that path and keep us in that direction at a consistent pace.”