With consolidation looming for Jasper County's two high schools, its two head football coaches will have new jobs next season.
Hardeeville's Blake Raley confirmed he has been named the head coach for Jasper County's consolidated high school, while Ridgeland's Richard Kirkland says he intends to join Bluffton High School's coaching staff for the 2012 season.
"I just wanted to be closer to my family and spend more time at home," said Kirkland, who lives in Bluffton.
While there is just one head coaching job in Jasper County for two head coaches, Kirkland said the consolidation wasn't a factor in his decision.
"I had some opportunities and I pursued them," Kirkland said. "It just so happened that this consolidation thing happened and a lot of people have made some conclusions."
Bluffton head football coach Ken Cribb said Kirkland would be responsible for outside linebackers. He called him, "part of our family," but cautioned that Kirkland's hiring isn't a done deal.
"Once he's been approved for hire by the school board and he has a signed contract, it'll be official," Cribb said. "Let's just say he's applied, he intends to be here and my interest is to have him here."
Kirkland went 26-19 in four seasons at Ridgeland. The Jaguars went 9-3 last season, falling to Region 5-A rival Bamberg-Ehrhardt in the second round of the Class 1-A playoffs. He would join a Bluffton team that went 14-1, losing only in the Class 3-A state championship.
"Our community is lucky to have somebody of his caliber," Cribb said.
While Raley confirmed he had been named the head coach of the consolidated Jasper County high school, he had no further comment. He has gone 17-36 in five seasons at Hardeeville, reaching the Class 1-A Lower State championship game in 2010.
Ridgeland was slated to move to Class 2-A next season. According to S.C. High School League commissioner Jerome Singleton, the consolidated high school will take Ridgeland's spot in Region 6-AA.
Jasper County athletics director James Gardner could not be reached for comment.
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