The Edisto High School football program has the longest streak of consecutive losses in the South Carolina High School League.
Looking to turn things around, Orangeburg Consolidated School District 4 has hired Lake Marion High School head football coach Chris Carter.
Beginning with the 2016-17 school year, Carter will be both athletic director and head football coach for Edisto.
Also announced by the district on Monday, Wayne “Sandy” Dukes has been promoted to head football coach at Branchville High School. Dukes has been head baseball coach, assistant football coach and agriculture teacher since 2009.
District 4 began the coaching search and interview process for the positions in mid-December 2015 after receiving the resignations of both first-year coach Michael Sneed at Edisto and eight-year head football coach Dan Reynolds at Branchville. Reynolds is still athletic director at Branchville.
Both new football coaches will be in place to begin spring workouts for the 2016 season.
Edisto went 0-10 for the second straight season in 2015 and will enter this coming season with the Palmetto State’s longest losing streak at 22 games.
Carter – who was a four-year starter during his playing days at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School – played college football at Tennessee-Chattanooga.
He has since coached in the National Indoor Football League and built up programs at both Garinger High in Charlotte and, most recently, Lake Marion in Santee.
Garinger’s football program was on a five-season losing streak, including 60 consecutive losses, when Carter became head coach. Within two seasons, he coached the program to the Class 4A Queen City Conference Championship.
Carter has been a teacher and coach for 20 years.
“I look at this (Edisto job) as another challenge, and I’m excited about it,” Carter told The Times and Democrat on Monday. “It’s not a wholesale move, since I’m staying in the area.
“The excitement is having the opportunity to get the kids in the Edisto program moving forward. I get an opportunity to not only build a football program but build excitement even more for a school that has been known for basketball, baseball and other sports.”
Head coach at Lake Marion since 2009, Carter was named the 2015 South Carolina High School League Class 2A Football Coach of the Year and the 2015 Times and Democrat Co-Coach of the Year as he led the Gators team to the program’s first Lower State Championship game.
“I always say every school has players; it’s just getting them motivated to put that work in to move toward success, which includes the recognition to get them seen by colleges,” Carter said. “I enjoy seeing the process of players growing together and getting better on the field and in the classroom.
“It’s not so much about getting them to focus on winning, but rather focusing on the process it takes to win. Our goal is to win games, but they have to commit to the process.”
Carter was in the stands at Orangeburg-Wilkinson on Aug. 21 scouting the Bruins, who were his Gators’ opponent the next week. He saw a 44-0 win over Edisto and recognized the state of the Cougars’ program.
“I thought Coach (Michael) Sneed did a good job stepping into that time frame and doing what he could do with the Edisto program,” Carter said. “Their game scores got closer later in the season and they showed improvements.”
Carter believes the potential is there for Edisto to put a competitive football team on the field and do so soon. He may bring some of his Lake Marion coaching staff with him to Edisto, but that has not been determined as of now.
In the past seven years at Lake Marion, 20 graduating football players have signed with collegiate programs and two players have been ranked among the top three players in the state. Also, five Lake Marion football players have played in various all-star games.
Additionally, according to the hiring press release from School District 4, Carter has seen the average grade-point average of his teams increase during his tenure at Lake Marion.
Carter said leaving Lake Marion was not an easy decision.
“It’s bittersweet, since I’m leaving a really good team and the No. 1 player in the state,” Carter said, referencing rising senior defensive back Davondre Robinson. “I’ve been the coach of them for the past seven years and the Lake Marion family welcomed me when I came here, while supporting our staff and what we’ve tried to do here to leave an impact on our players and the program.
“It was a difficult decision, with some great players coming back for the Gators’ program next season. On paper, the team coming back for them could be just as good as this past year’s team.”
Branchville went 2-8 this past season, winning two road games at North (28-26 score) and at Lincoln (30-14).
In addition to serving as the agriculture teacher at Branchville High since 2009, Dukes has served as the varsity baseball coach for the Yellow Jackets since 2012. He has coached football in Colleton County and has most recently served as an assistant football coach on the Branchville staff.