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Strom Thurmond football coach steps down after 8 winning seasons

Antwaun Hillary
Antwaun Hillary(WRDW)
Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 3:39 PM EST
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JOHNSTON, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Antwaun Hillary, the 11th head football coach of Strom Thurmond High School, announced this week that he is resigning after eight momentous years in the role and 15 years on the school’s coaching staff.

“This has been a very difficult decision,” said Hillary. “Strom Thurmond High football has been the source of so many memories for me as a fan, player, and coach. The culture and energy is unlike any other program.”

Hillary is the first head coach at Strom Thurmond to have also been an alumnus and player for the school, graduating in 2000 and earning his bachelor’s degree from Augusta University.

Before being named head coach, he served on the school’s coaching staff for seven years alongside head coach Lee Sawyer, working first as the quarterbacks’ coach beginning in 2007 and then being promoted to offensive coordinator in 2010.

In 2012, the Strom Thurmond Rebels shattered the school record for points in a season, averaging 49 per game. When Sawyer retired in March 2014, Hillary was promoted to the head coach position.

  • As head coach, Hillary led the football program to historic achievements and never had a losing season. Among the highlights:
  • The school brought home regional championships in 2015 and 2018.
  • He led the team to two 10-win seasons.
  • In 2015, he was named the AAA Coach of the Year by the South Carolina Coaches Association.
  • He again earned top honors in 2018 when he was recognized as Regional Coach of the Year.
  • He coached in all nine Central Savannah River Area Border Bowls and was the bowl head coach in 2016.
  • Thirty of his players have received football scholarships.
  • He coached Antonio Hamilton, who went on to the Super Bowl last year with the Kansas City Chiefs.

“Edgefield County School District could not be more proud of Hillary’s coaching legacy,” stated Superintendent Dr. Kevin O’Gorman. “His winning record speaks to his ability to teach and lead students, and I believe we will continue to see great things from him in the future.”

Principal Robert Grimm agreed, sharing that Hillary is 1 in a million.

“We continually hear from students and alumni who have been inspired by his leadership. He has helped students prepare for games and for life after graduation,” Grimm said.

Grimm shared that the head coach position will be posted soon and that the school plans to fill it in the next two months, allowing the successor to be in place for spring training.

Strom Thurmond Athletic Director Drake Dunlap asserted that, “Coach Hillary is a man of unmatched integrity. He has helped our football program remain daunting and elite with impeccably high standards, and he has exceeded our expectations. He believes in every student. He has been there for them—encouraging them in practice, in games, and in life.”

Dunlap noted, “Coach Hillary will be greatly missed. It is evident that he has positively and greatly impacted the lives of scores of young men throughout his coaching career.”

Hillary, 39, is stepping down to pursue other career opportunities.

“My faith and family are extremely important to me, and it is clear that the time has come for me to face new challenges that allow me to lead and inspire off the field,” shared Hillary. “I am incredibly proud to have been part of the Strom Thurmond High football program’s journey and want to thank everyone who has played a part in my coaching story—the players, the fans, my colleagues, the hiring committee, and the administration. I will forever bleed blue.”

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