By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
GUYTON – Two years ago, offensive coordinator Loren Purvis left his comfort zone, drawing up X's and O's at South Effingham, to put his stamp on Morgan County High School's football program.
But when the Mustangs head coaching job opened, Purvis was ready to return.
Last Wednesday, the school district approved Purvis' hiring, the final hurdle before the 33-year-old could begin packing for Guyton.
"This was a goal and dream of mine to be a head coach and I always thought (Effingham) was a good place to raise a family," Purvis said. "My family is excited. We loved our time down there."
SEHS athletic director Nick Smith was part of a five-person committee to find a replacement for Coach Nathan Clark, who left to return to Lee County High School. Smith said about 30 officially applied for the Mustangs' job.
"There were a lot of things that excited us (about Purvis)," Smith said. "He's a high character guy who we feel will build relationships in the community. He has a ton of knowledge on offense. He'll be a good leader.
"The familiarity helped. We already know what he's about. I, for one, can vouch for him. I've seen how he treats kids in the hallways."
Purvis coached at SEHS during the 2019 and 2020 seasons. The Mustangs had their last winning season in 2019, posting a 6-5 record before losing to Jones County in the first round of the Class 5A state playoff in Clark's first year.
"We had some good pieces," said Purvis, rattling off the names of offensive lineman Austin Blaske (now playing at Georgia), running back Rocko Griffin (Vanderbilt) and quarterback Taylor Jackson (Reinhardt University). "We ran the ball a lot from the spread formation and led the state in scoring for most of that year. It was a good year."
Last season, Purvis' offense at Morgan County averaged more than 35 points a game while finishing second in Region 4-3A and advancing to the state playoffs.
"My philosophy is to stay as multiple as possible," Purvis said. "Schematically, you want to fit what you do to your personnel."
Purvis, a wing-t quarterback at Irwin County, has 12 years of coaching experience.
He spent three years at Prince Ave. Christian learning from Coach Jeff Herron (312-54 in 29 seasons) and defensive coordinator Richard Bell (former UGA defensive coordinator and head coach at South Carolina).
Purvis was the passing coordinator under Coach Tommy Jones during a five-year stay at Dacula High before coming to South Effingham.
Clark came to SEHS after coordinating Lee County's spread offense to two Class 6A state championships. Purvis' college roommate was on the staff at Lee County and told Clark about Purvis.
"I can't say enough good things about Clark," Purvis said. "He gave me a chance to be a coordinator and without that, I wouldn't be in this position today. He's laid a solid foundation at South Effingham."
Purvis’ wife Shannon gave birth to a baby girl, Ellie, on April 11 – a day before getting his head coaching job. The couple also has a 5-year-old daughter, Charlie Kate.
"It's been a busy time, but it's been a good busy," Purvis said, laughing. "We're looking forward to coming back. For me, it was the people and the relationships we made that makes it special."