Heritage School’s Prisant steps down as head football coach
by DOUG GORMAN
Less than a week before the start of the 2014 football season, Heritage School head football coach Kevin Prisant has stepped down as both coach and math teacher at the private school in Newnan.
Citing personal reasons, Prisant submitted his letter of resignation to headmaster James Watson, which was accepted late Sunday. Defensive coordinator Derrick Clay has been named interim coach of the Hawks for the 2014 season.
Watson admits he was not prepared to make a coaching change just five days before the start of the football season. “I don’t think you are ever ready for something like this,” Watson said.
The headmaster said the parting is amicable.
“We are choosing to support Kevin, given what he has experienced, and that is the need for him to make a change. We are in support of him, that he has resigned for personal reasons.”
The 29-year-old coach, who served three years at Heritage and was just the fourth coach in the school’s history, compiled a 22-12 record. Clay has been an assistant coach and defensive coordinator the past three seasons. He was also the varsity girls basketball coach for the past two seasons, leading the Lady Hawks to the Class AAA Final Four in Macon last winter.
He will stay on as basketball coach for the upcoming season.
“Derrick Clay has accepted my offer to step in as interim head coach,” Watson said in a letter e-mailed to the Newnan Times Herald. “Derrick is well-equipped to take this role on after serving as assistant coach and defensive coordinator.”
Prisant led the team through both highs and lows during his coaching career with the Hawks.
In his first season with Heritage, the Hawks posted – at the time – their best record in school history, an 8-3 mark that included a trip to the playoffs.
The following year everything fell into place for the Hawks, as they went 11-2 and advanced to the GISA Class AAA Finals, losing to Prisant’s high school alma mater, Deerfield-Windsor, 25-12 in Albany.
Last year, the Hawks took a step back, posting a 3-7 record, but Prisant helped the team get through one of its darkest periods in school history after team captain and rising senior Tyler Henson was killed in a one-car accident.
“[Prisant] did a great job lifting this team up,” Clay said. “He kept everything together.”
In his letter of resignation, Prisant praised the Heritage community for its support during his tenure at the school. “I am confident in my three years as head of the football program that we are a team that competed at a very high level, while instilling great values in these young men,” Prisant said in his resignation letter. “ I have been fortunate enough to live my dream the last three years, and I thank the entire Heritage School family. The kids, faculty and staff have been nothing but caring and have helped me more than they know.”
The Heritage football team heard the news during a meeting with Clay and school administrators early Monday.
Clay is confident his team will be ready to play the season opener against Flint River.
“It’s going to be an emotional game,” Clay said. “The thing I have instilled in the guys is this is a family. When family is down and not doing well, we have to pick ourselves up. When you have a challenge like this, it gives you opportunity.”