“There’s no good time to walk away,” Jacoway said. “I told our guys today there are probably better coaches out there than me, but none of them love coaching better than me. I’ve been here 32 years and I’d like to do it for 100, but the timing seemed right. There were a lot of tears shed in that room, but I told them as much as it hurts right now, they’ll be enthusiastic about who they get after me. This job is attractive enough for a great hire, and I think this program will keep rolling right along.”
Jacoway leaves the Wildcats after sporting an overall record of 228-132. His 1985 team won the Class 1A state championship with a 14-6 victory over Repton, capping a perfect 15-0 season in Jacoway’s third season. That year, he earned the Alabama Sportswriters Association Coach of the Year.
Jacoway also earned the ASWA Coach of the Year honor in 1997 when his Class 2A Wildcats went 12-2 and finished as state runner-up to Luverne. He was inducted into the Cherokee County Sports Hall of Fame last year.
All totaled, Jacoway’s teams claimed 12 area/region championships with 25 playoff appearances. On Oct. 29, 2009, Jacoway earned his 200th victory with a 30-0 thumping of Spring Garden. Last year’s team went 5-5 and fell just short of a playoff berth.
Jacoway is third on the list among active coaches with longest tenures at one school behind Buddy Anderson at Vestavia Hills and Lamar Harris of Hubbertville (both had 37).
Jacoway is 10th all time of coaches with longest tenures at one school. The record is held by Woody Clements, who guided Holt for 41 seasons.
Jacoway said the state championship and runner-up teams were special ones, but every team he’s coached holds a special place in his heart.
“Every team I’ve coached has had some special people,” Jacoway said. “This group last year was their first in (Class) 3A, and we all had a good time this season. This group has so much potential.”
Jacoway said his decision to step down as the Wildcats’ head football coach was predicated by a job offer he received from an energy company called Cenergistic. The Dallas-based company was established in the early 1980s, with the goal of helping school districts, colleges and universities throughout the nation focus on utility conservation.
Cenergistic entered into a contract agreement with the Cherokee County Board of Education back in December.
Jacoway was offered a job with the company on Monday. He said he goes for job training in Dallas on Feb. 23 for six days, but is expected to return to the Cherokee County area.
“They gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Jacoway said. “After 32 years of coaching, now I get to be a rookie again. It’s going to be a challenge, and it’s going to be interesting. Instead of just trying to win for Sand Rock, now I’m going to be trying to win for our whole county.”
Sand Rock High School Principal Ben East said he’s sorry to see Jacoway leave, but understands his decision.
“I’ve been here a little over 10 years, and he’s been one of our school’s biggest supporters,” East said. “It hasn’t been all about football with him. You regularly see him at other games and functions. He’s not only focused on athletics, but also academics. He’s been about turning our players into young men. It’s just been great to work with him.
“Today when he met with the players, it was very emotional. They were upset he was leaving, but they understood. He’s coached so many people here, and even after 31 years, he’s still well-respected and well-loved. We really hate to see him go.”
East said there’s no timetable for hiring Jacoway’s successor, although he did say he would like to have someone in place before spring training begins in April.
“I’ve talked to (Cherokee County Schools Superintendent) Mitchell Guice about it, and there’s all kinds of factors involved to make sure we get the right fit,” East said. “We’re optimistic for a good person, a good leader who works well with our kids and teaches them not just how to play, but how to be successful in life. Hopefully we’ll have a candidate that will fit our program.”