The Seahawks have their man.
B.J. Payne has been tabbed as the next coach to lead the Hilton Head Island High School football program, the school announced Thursday afternoon.
"When you get right down to it, a good coach is also a good teacher," principal Amanda O'Nan said in a statement. "We think we're getting someone who will be a good teacher in the classroom and on the football field."
Payne comes to Hilton Head High after six seasons at Lexington (Ohio) High School, where he led the Minutemen to a 36-24 record during his tenure. He resigned in December in the hopes of moving closer to his hometown. Payne is a North Carolina native and his father, Brooks Payne, played at Clemson University under coach Frank Howard.
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"From the academics, to the athletic success, to the actual island and the area, I really, absolutely fell in love with it," Payne said. "I really pursued it and absolutely fell in love with the community."
Payne -- a certified teacher who will teach physical education -- said he hopes to move onto the Island within the next month. He won't begin full-time teaching duties until the next academic school year but still will be able to lead spring practices. Athletics director Mark Karen expressed his desire during the hiring process to have his coaches be inside the building at all times. The Seahawks' previous coach, Tim Singleton -- who was dismissed in November -- was not a certified teacher or a full-time school employee.
"I want to get down there and get in the community, get everybody excited about the football program, get around the players, get around the kids, get the school spirit up and get it going," Payne said.
Payne will have the opportunity to bring along an offensive or defensive coordinator, as long as he is a certified teacher, too. Payne said Thursday afternoon that he had two defensive coaches from the Ohio area in mind but declined to reveal their names. He also began to contact current members of the Seahawks coaching staff to gauge interest on who would like to return.
"From the research that I've done, there's some coaches obviously that I think are integral to the program that I want to keep," said Payne, who added that he'd like to have a complete staff within a couple of weeks.
Payne runs a 4-2-5 defense that features heavy blitzing and man-to-man coverage. A defensive tackle for the University of Mount Union in the mid-1990s, Payne helped deliver three NCAA Division III national championships to the Purple Raiders.
"I believe in getting after offenses and putting pressure on them and bringing a lot of pressure on a quarterback," he said.
Payne likely will end up calling plays on the offensive side of the ball, however, should he be able to find a defensive coordinator. He called plays for the Minutemen in his final few seasons and has been pegged as a spread coach.
He echoed that sentiment Thursday as he recalled watching his future quarterback take on Hilton Head Prep on the hardwood Dec. 28.
"I had an opportunity to watch Michael Julian play basketball, so I have a pretty good idea of what the offense is going to be," he said, laughing.
Payne was selected by Karen and O'Nan after the other two finalists -- Bradley Adams of Georgetown High School and Josh Just of Hanover (Va.) High School -- withdrew their names from consideration. Just pulled out on Monday and Adams followed suit two days later.
Payne said he received the official offer from O'Nan at noon Thursday and accepted the position on the spot. As of Thursday afternoon he had not yet been faxed a contract but expected that to come quickly.
"I want to get this process going as fast as we can," Payne said. "There will be new systems on both sides of the ball, there'll be new systems as far as some things that I do within my program that maybe kids haven't done before. That takes some acclimation time.
"We're going to make it as fast and as smooth of a transition as possible."