After 10 successful seasons at the helm of the Bamberg-Ehrhardt football program, Kevin "Butch" Crosby was introduced on Wednesday as the new Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School head football coach.
Crosby led the Red Raiders, with 22 senior players, to the SCHSL Class 2A state title game this past season. But when the O-W post became a possibility, he viewed it as a great challenge.
Having reached the 100-win mark on the sideline for the Red Raiders during this past season, Crosby felt he accomplished much with the B-E program. His Red Raiders teams went 107-24. But the chance to prepare a team to play on the Class 4A level was an opportunity worth taking.
"This is an exciting day, coming from Bamberg to Orangeburg-Wilkinson; it's a big challenge for me and I'm ready for it," Crosby said while touring O-W on Wednesday. "It's been good times in Bamberg. So it's one of those times where you cry because you're leaving, but you also know there are other opportunities out there.
"Orangeburg-Wilkinson has given me the opportunity to see if I can take another program in a different direction. We had a lot of success in Bamberg and I never had a complaint there. It's just that I felt this was the right time to make a change and make a move. This was the fit for us. We can win here and bring our winning tradition here. It's a mini gold mine walking around this campus and seeing the possibilities to have success here."
The Bruins posted a 3-8 record this past season and, in late December, parted ways with Tommy Brown who (in two separate stints from 1992-2003 and 2008-2017) coached the Bruins for a total of 22 seasons.
Meanwhile, Crosby's Red Raiders team went 13-2 in 2017, picking up a 13-7 win early in non-region play against Orangeburg-Wilkinson in Orangeburg.
"As coaches, you see what you can do on the 1A and 2A levels, where we've bounced around (at B-E) over the years, and you see this opportunity and wonder if you can win here, on this level," Crosby said. "I'm looking forward to getting the young men here at O-W interested in helping turn this program around where we can consistently win."
O-W Athletic Director Troy Johnson viewed the hiring of Crosby as a fresh start for the football program.
"This was a long, tedious process, but we feel like we got the best guy moving forward with our football program," Johnson said. "We had some great people who interviewed for this job.
"When it came to it, Coach Crosby had the best resume and is the person we went with for this job. Hopefully there is a buzz in the air for Orangeburg-Wilkinson football. That's what we are looking for. We want our fans to come out and support us as we go in a new direction. Not only has he coached in three state championship games in his tenure at Bamberg, but he is the current T&D Region Coach of the Year."
Crosby is bringing a few assistant coaches with him from Bamberg-Ehrhardt, but his Bruins coaching staff is still taking shape. Plans are for the assistants already signed up on staff to coordinate off-season workouts with prospective Bruins football players within days.
"Athletes are here, and I'm coming from Bamberg that had a ton of athletes also," Crosby said. "There's just more to pick from here, in a larger pool. Instead of 400 (students), you're talking about 1,200 (students).
"Maybe we can get enough guys out that we can go two-platoon, with offense and defense, where we don't have to play kids both ways. I want to see how that works. We haven't had that blessing in Bamberg. We had kids who were good enough to play both ways and we had to play them both ways. Here, I think we can get enough out (for football) to keep the offense fresh when the defense is playing and the defense fresh when the offense is playing."
Crosby expects to have Bruins players and fans alike anticipating 15 games each season. With that in mind, the off-season conditioning becomes even more key right away.
"You can't wait until August to say 'I'm ready to play and I'm ready to win,'" Crosby said. "You have to be prepared to win 15 ballgames before you can go out and win 15 ballgames.
"Every game you've got to treat as your last game. Fans should look forward to some exciting times here in Orangeburg. It's about academics first. I don't just want athletes, I want student-athletes. Parents should be ready. We're going to grind and push them to the max, but it's about love and seeing the results in the end."
Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School will be working to fill the coaching void for the Red Raiders football program.
"Our superintendent, our principal and I will have a meeting very soon and discuss this issue," said Tracy Fleming, Bamberg-Ehrhardt athletic director. "I want to wish Coach Kevin Crosby the best of luck at O-W.
"He not only won a lot of football games but he changed a lot of lives here in Bamberg. He will definitely be missed."
In The T&D Region, head football coaching positions that are open include Bamberg-Ehrhardt, Bethune-Bowman, Denmark-Olar and Lake Marion.