I have a vision and I’m ready for the challenge.New South Effingham head football coach Nathan Clark
RINCON — The South Effingham Mustangs have a new head football coach with a thoroughbred resume.
During its regularly scheduled meeting Thursday night, the Effingham County Board of Education unanimously approved the hiring of Nathan Clark. He is the former offensive coordinator of two-time defending Class AAAAAA champion Lee County.
In 2018, Clark, 38, directed a unit that averaged 39.7 points per game en route to a 15-0 record. The Trojans tallied at least 40 points 10 times.
“I can’t wait to get started,” Clark said via telephone the day after his hiring. “I’m so excited. I’m going to bring a lot of energy and excitement, and a good work ethic.
“I can’t wait to get there.”
Clark visited South Effingham over the weekend and hopes to arrive for good soon. He expects to be released from his Lee County contract during a Feb. 11 Lee County Board of Education meeting or earlier.
Clark succeeds Donnie Revell, who resigned last fall following a 2-8 season that didn’t include a playoff berth. Revell posted a 34-62 career record with the Mustangs, including 4-28 his last three seasons.
Lee County endured a similar difficult stretch before current head coach Dean Fabrizio and his staff, including Clark, took over the Trojans in 2009. They are 81-36 since inheriting a squad that had lost 26 of its previous 31 contests.
“You’ve got to change the culture,” Clark said. “You have to figure out a way to make everybody believe that they can win and that they are successful. It’s a process. It’s not going to happen immediately.
“I’m going to give it everything I’ve got and I really, really hope it does but I understand it will be a long road and I am going to stay loyal.”
Clark and his wife, Mary Lee, are already looking to buy a house in Effingham County. She is an elementary school teacher who is pregnant with a girl and they already have a three-year-old daughter.
“We are looking to put down roots,” Clark said. “That’s where I want to be and I want to do the best I can to get that thing headed in the right direction. I’m going to put some time in it and not say, ‘Hey, it’s going to be a quick fix.’”
Clark believes the Mustangs have a chance to be winners in 2019.
“It looks like there are lot of guys returning so I think we have an opportunity to be pretty good right away but I have no idea how it is going to go,” he said.
Clark, who currently has two open slots on his staff, said he is not wed to a particular scheme on offense or defense. He is going to evaluate his players to see what suits them best.
“Obviously, there is an offense that I know but there are a bunch of different ways to do it,” he said. “It’s not set in stone and one particular way. It depends on the personnel.”
During the Fabrizio regime, the Trojans matched their offensive systems to their starting quarterback’s strengths.
“I think I can implement a few things that we have been doing here a Lee County but we have changed throughout the course of time,” Clark said. “Stephen Collier was here and he played quarterback at Ohio State. He was a run-first guy so that was what we were doing.
“Then the quarterbacks I had the past couple of years were throw-first guys.”
Clark also coached Marshall quarterback Garet Morrell, who was a dual threat, allowing the Trojans to feature an even mix of running and passing.
“It just depends how strongly I feel on what kind of team we have,” Clark said.
Clark said he was blessed to work with an abundance of skilled players at Lee County.
“We were absolutely loaded on offense and it made my life very easy,” he said.
Clark expects nothing to come easy at South Effingham, including a win over rival Effingham County. The Mustangs have lost three straight to the Rebels.
“Effingham County has a very good team and that is going to be a big challenge for me,” Clark said. “I know that is somebody we need to strive to beat and I’m excited about the challenge but it’s not going to be easy.”
Clark said he has been yearning for a new career hill to climb.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have won a ton of games because of the players and the situations I was in,” he said. “I was there to help guide the ship a little bit and I know this will be a big change for me, but I know what it takes to get where we want to be. I helped restructure this program so I can see it.
“I have a vision and I’m ready for the challenge.”
In addition to racking up victories on the field, Clark expects his players to be winners in the classroom. His commitment to academics impressed the selection committee and school board members.
“I’ve been very, very blessed to be in a program where the head coach has taught me about how important academics are,” Clark said. “I am currently the ISS (in-school suspension) teacher at Lee County and I have a lot of time to be in the classroom and do things so (Fabrizio) made me the academic coordinator. I am in charge of the academics and I know how it goes.
“I’ve done it for the last six or seven years and that’s one of my strengths.”
At South Effingham, Clark will assign a small group of players for each of his assistants to monitor their academic progress.
“I’m excited to be able to implement that program,” Clark said.