After a year away from football, Jerry Brown is getting back into the game.
Brown is taking over at Northside Christian Academy in Lexington, which will be fielding an 8-man football team for the first time this year. Northside Christian will play 8-man in the South Carolina Independent Schools Association for two years before moving up to 11-man in 2018-19.
The school previously fielded a middle school football team, made up of sixth- through ninth-graders.
“Before I took on building a program, I had to find an administration that was loyal and that would do best for the kids because that is what’s most important,” Brown said. “I found that at Northside.”
Brown was approached about the position back in September and finally accepted the job earlier this month.
“It is going to take all of my expertise,” he said. “I have ever never started a program before or coached eight-man football.”
Brown has won 260 games during his 30-year career as a head coach, five state championships, three coming at Berkeley. The other two championships were at Spring Valley and Batesburg-Leesville. He coached more than 60 Division I athletes, including eight who went to play on in the NFL.
Brown was in the running for the vacant Berkeley job and had a couple interviews there but didn’t hear anything after that. Berkeley recently announced that the process didn’t result in a candidate being recommended for hire and advertised the position again.
“We were excited about the possibility,” Brown said about returning to Berkeley. “We loved Moncks Corner and never had a losing season there. I still have a lot of good friends there and wish them the best of luck.”
This will be Brown’s fifth coaching job with previous ones at Spring Valley, Fairfield Central, Berkeley and Batesburg-Leesville. His last stop was at Spring Valley 2014, and the Vikings went 6-5.
In January 2015, Brown was placed on administrative leave at Spring Valley and later resigned related to an allegation that he hit a student in one of his classes. The investigation determined the alleged incident was horseplay and not a malicious assault.
Brown received an outpouring of support and countless letters from former players, coaches and administrators during that time.
He spent last year recovering from knee replacement surgery to repair an injury suffered during a Shrine Bowl game when he was in high school. He was a volunteer consultant in the spring and summer at Brookland-Cayce and Eau Claire and then in the fall for Solanco High School in Pennsylvania. Solanco is coached by Tony Cox, a former assistant of Brown’s at Berkeley. The school made the playoffs for the first time last year.
Brown watched game film and took pride in helping out but missed the day-to-day interaction with his players, something he came accustomed to during his nearly 40 years as an assistant or head coach.
“I missed working with the kids and everything, plus my wife was ready to get me out of the house,” Brown joked.
Brown is in the process of putting together his coaching staff and plans to meet the players when they come back from Spring Break early next month. After that, he will get the players into a weightlifting program and get ready for spring practice, which begins May 11. The Crusaders will play their games at a facility away from campus this year before an on-campus site is built for 2017.
Brown will teach a weightlifting class at the school and help out in spiritual development of the players.
“I really wanted to be in place to teach Christian life and love of God with my team and biblical truth,” Brown said.
Jerry Brown 30-year coaching career
▪ 260 wins and 119 losses
▪ 5 state champions at three different schools (1988, 1994, 1996, 2009, 2013)
▪ Coach of the Year six times
▪ Undefeated in state championship games (5 as head coach, 3 as assistant)
▪ 175-63 in 18 years at Berkeley High