On Sunday evening, at the season-end football banquet, Don Herman announced his retirement after 32 years coaching football at the regional high school.

In 2015 he announced his retirement after 28 years coaching football at the regional high school.

“This is it,” he affirmed on Wednesday morning, speaking to the Gazette by phone. “This is really the final curtain call.”

Following his first retirement, the program took a hard turn, Coach Herman said, going through two coaches in two years.

Coach Herman in the huddle this year. — Paul Bagnall

“The program was in disarray,” he said. “And I felt like I could come back to provide some needed stability, knowing it was not going to be long term. I felt like I still had something to offer.”

He returned to a game that had actually changed in the two years he had been out of coaching.

“There was a change from using collegiate NCAA rules to High School Federation rules,” he said. “The biggest change was a reduction in the amount of blocks you could do below the waist. This was for safety and is a good thing but it changes your offense.”

Blocking schemes and passing protections had to be altered, strategy revised, new players to mold, and a pandemic to navigate. Coach Herman even encountered something he had never come across in all his years on the field: playing football in February, after the 2020 fall season was postponed due to Covid.

He was helped by a squad of assistant coaches, many of whom he had coached when they were playing for him at the regional high school, and his go-to core belief in work ethic.

“You can’t teach height but you can teach work ethic, and if you have that you will do well,” he said.

He feels he is leaving a program that is ready for the next stage.

“It’s in a better place now,” he said. “The junior class is small in numbers but has quality players. The current freshmen and sophomore squads are solid classes. The base is there.”

A new head coach search will begin now but Coach Herman has no say in who replaces him. Instead, he is looking to life on the sidelines. Just this past weekend he hit the road, heading back to Georgia where he grew up to watch his old high school football team win the Georgia state championship for their division.

“The Benedictine Cadets, the southern BC,” he said of his alma mater. “I got to see classmates I haven’t seen in decades. I couldn’t go to the reunions because of coaching.”

He is also excited about spending more time with his wife and visiting his two young grandchildren in Florida.

Fall, for the first time, will not just be about football.

“It’s the best time to travel,” he said.