Wilkes tabbed to replace Smith at C.E. Murray
By C.R. Cumbee
Greeleyville—Sometimes all good things must come to an end. Brian Smith took the C.E. Murray football program to new heights, including the school’s first state championship appearance, but accepted the head coaching position at Blythewood High last month.
However, the War Eagles didn’t waste too much time finding his replacement. Sumter defensive backs coach Chad Wilkes was recently hired and is ready to keep the program’s momentum rolling.
“The good thing is that they’re already established. Coach Smith did an unreal job of coming in and establishing a program that wasn’t really anything before he got there. That takes a lot of the burden off of me and makes the transition much easier. I’m just going to add to what has already been established,” Wilkes said.
Wilkes, 25, won two state titles as a free safety at Cheraw from 2006-09 before signing a football scholarship with the University of New Hampshire. He later transferred and finished his degree at Clemson before going back to his high school alma mater as an assistant coach for one season in 2015.
Wilkes will also serve as the War Eagles’ athletic director, which will be a new challenge.
“Football isn’t going to be nearly the most difficult or most challenging part. The hard part is going to be handling all the logistical things as athletic director – handling the budget, the scheduling, ordering equipment and all the simple things that you don’t think about that have to get done. That all falls on my shoulders and I’m prepared for that,” Wilkes said.
Wilkes retained all members of the previous coaching staff, including defensive coordinator Will Furse. However, he will implement more of a spread offense that uses a power run component and puts athletes in space. The War Eagles will begin its spring practices on May 8.
“We’re already getting some work done and installing. In two days, they’ve already started picking things up,” Wilkes said. “Once I was hired, I wanted to have most of the staff in place. The defense will be the same and will pick up where they left off, but offensively almost everything will be new.
“It’s important to hit the ground running now so that when spring practice comes and we actually get pads on, we can start repping. There won’t be as much teaching because they’re going to know the playbook before they ever put pads on.”