Wayne Farmer has watched the Calhoun County football program with appreciation from opposing sidelines for many years.
On Thursday, he was announced as the new head football coach for the Saints.
Farmer, who has been head coach at Scott's Branch the past four seasons, is known well throughout the Midlands football coaching landscape for decades. He has also been head coach at Elloree, Denmark-Olar, Allendale-Fairfax and Lower Richland, having also been an assistant coach at Bamberg-Ehrhardt, West Florence and Orangeburg-Wilkinson.
Farmer is a graduate of West Florence High School and South Carolina State University.
He inherits a perennial playoff program at Calhoun County, but one that struggled to a 2-9 record in 2017 under Bill Kimrey and later interim head coach Justin Farmer (also CCHS athletic director).
Farmer has proven that he can build up high school football programs. When he got to Summerton to lead the Scott's Branch program four years ago, the Eagles had one win the previous two seasons. This year, Scott's Branch went 5-7, including a 12-0 shutout of future Class 2A Lower State champion Bamberg-Ehrhardt.
"Over the years, I've coached against Calhoun County and I've seen the talent and the good teams they have had," Farmer said. "I've always thought that it was a really good place to have a chance to win a championship.
"To me, it's always been an enticing job. I know the talent is there, you just have to change the mentality."
Farmer said he plans to get the Saints football players into an off-season workout program soon. However, he recognizes both Calhoun County basketball teams are still active in playoffs, and he is avoiding any conflicts with workout schedules until after both Saints teams have gone as far as they can in bracket play.
"When we do get there and lay the groundwork for the program, the biggest thing is it's going to be tough love and the boys have to buy in," Farmer said. "When they see the final product, they will know it's worth it.
"We have to get them in shape and learn football and be ready for the big, tough games. They've got to realize, I've rebuilt several programs. There will be some heartaches and frustrations. But, my motto is pain is temporary, pride is forever."
Farmer's teams are known for their Wing-T offense and physical defense.
"I'm bringing my offense in, but we will have some (shot)gun stuff in the playbook too," Farmer said. "The Wing-T brings about the toughness that you need. But you also need to be more elusive.
"I'm going to demand a lot of them. But it will make us a better team. I coached against all the Jeffrey boys and Charles Ben; we had wars against them, but it's been good. The kids may not know me at first, but they will know of me, if only because I coached against their fathers and uncles."
Farmer was inducted into the South Carolina Track and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in March of 2017, having coached for more than 20 region titles, three state runners-up titles and seven SCHSL state titles.
"Those track titles are nice, but in football I've been to Lower State and Upper State finals, but have yet to win one," Farmer said. "I feel like Moses - it's taken a while, but I want to win state. I believe we can win at Calhoun County.
"Track is something that helps football and it's been one of the secrets of our success. Track is a sport that teaches kids how to compete, building mental strength, since it's you competing in your event and you only have you to blame if you don't do well."
Mental strength to have individual success translates well into a team sport like football. That and teamwork could lead to future success for the Saints with Farmer on the sideline.
In a release on Thursday, Calhoun County Schools stated "Coach Farmer brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience from his many years of coaching. His work will focus on molding our young adults and continuing to build a positive environment at Calhoun County High School. We look forward to Coach Farmer meeting our current players, prospective players, coaches and community to build a cohesive relationship."