Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School has named Thomas Balkcom its interim head football coach with an intention to eventually lift the interim tag, athletics director Jeremiah Faber confirmed Thursday.
The State’s Lou Bezjak first reported that Balkcom had been named the Jaguars’ interim coach via Twitter.
Balkcom spent last season as the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator under Jahmaal Nelson, who was not retained following a 3-6 campaign. Nelson was 15-26 in four seasons at RHHS.
Balkcom has more than two decades of coaching experience since playing at Georgia Tech, where he was a defensive standout and earned defensive MVP honors in the Yellow Jackets’ Citrus Bowl win over Nebraska to cap their national championship season in 1990. His experience includes collegiate stops as an assistant at Morehouse, Morris Brown, Central Florida, and Savannah State.
He was the head coach at Wilson High School in Florence for one season, going 3-8 before resigning in July 2017.
Faber said Balkcom’s resume “speaks for itself,” which made it an easy decision to hire from within the school’s walls rather than wait until after the school year for outside candidates to become available.
“We didn’t want our program to continue to drift behind all the schools in this area and in our region. We wanted to put a face with our program,” Faber said. “Had we gone through the outside interview process, it would have been late April or early May before we and that coach totally committed to us. Why go through that process when we have a gentleman on campus who fits everything we need?”
One of Faber’s primary concerns with the program in recent years has been a steady stream of student-athletes leaving for area private schools. He hopes hiring Balkcom can help stem that.
“We are very excited,” Faber said. “He feels as though he can build a strong program here. He has a real good rapport with the kids and does an excellent job in the classroom. He has all the ingredients we were looking for, all the intangibles that will help our program to get back to where it needs to be.”