Benji Harrison resigned as Jackson County High football coach on Tuesday following a three-year stint in which he led the program to its first state playoff berths in 20 years.
The Panthers went 12-20 overall under Harrison over the past three seasons.
Harrison led Jackson County to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons, 2012 and 2013, ending a postseason drought that began after the Panthers’ berth in 1992. The Panthers fell to 2-8 in 2014 and missed the playoffs.
“First and foremost, as an athletic director, I understand the success and impact that a football program has on a school,” Jackson County athletic director Adam Lindsey said. “It sets the tone and attitude for the new season of sports and the school year.
“Coach Harrison came in and he embraced that spirit and wanted to do that. It was a blessing to have him here at Jackson County, and he will be sorely missed.”
Harrison could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Harrison told the team Tuesday afternoon about his departure, according to Lindsey, and the reaction showed the impact Harrison has made on the players.
“When something like this happens, players react differently. But, in a lot of cases they are really mad, upset, cussing,” Lindsey shared. “What we saw was a group of kids form a line approximately 60-people deep and hug him and share with him the impact he has made on their lives.
“I know this was a tough decision for him (Harrison) and his family to make.”
Now, the focus at Jackson County shifts to finding Harrison’s replacement. Lindsey said he has already received more than 50 resumes from candidates for the job.
“Losing Coach Harrison is a huge loss to the athletic department, not just the football program,” Lindsey said. “We are searching as quickly as we can to find the next head coach.
“We’re hopeful. We’re all making a lot of phone calls and we will take the time to thoroughly go through the candidates and make the right hire for Jackson County.”