Buddy Sorrow had a good little thing going: a house 20 feet from the placid waters of Lake Sinclair and a part-time job each fall as a community football coach at Southeast Bulloch High School.
So it surprised his wife, Linda, when Sorrow inquired about the head coaching job at Edmund Burke Academy, in a town she had never hard of: Waynesboro. Two days before his interview, Sorrow popped in the school's gym, unannounced, for a basketball game. He savored the atmosphere and later rushed home to tell his wife he would accept the job if offered.
"The coaching bug just never left me ... I was impressed with the school, the administration and then I met the kids; then I was really impressed," said Sorrow, 61, who was named Edmund Burke coach in January 2007 after stops at nearly 10 public schools across the state, including a nine-year stint as the head coach at East Laurens.
Two years into his new job, Sorrow is The Augusta Chronicle independent schools coach of the year for leading Edmund Burke to its most wins since the 2000 season (9) and defeating eventual two-time state champion Memorial Day during the regular season. The Spartans also led Memorial Day by two touchdowns in the second half of the state semifinals before falling 22-14.
Edmund Burke, a run- oriented team, graduated its entire running game and returned 12 starters from a 5-5-1 team that was clobbered in the first round of the playoffs. Sorrow helped mold a team that united under a selfless attitude he said he rarely saw during his more than 30 seasons public high schools.
"I could ask these players to do 12 sets of squats 12 times and they wouldn't say a word," Sorrow said. "They never complained about anything."
Sorrow knew his team might be on its way to a strong season when he asked three seniors to try new positions, a request that often produces dissent. He heard nothing from Tyler Rowland, an all-region player who moved from quarterback to running back and carried the ball 110 times.
"We had great senior leadership, just great kids," Sorrow said. "If your seniors don't believe in you, the rest won't believe in you.
"We moved players all over and never heard a peep."
Sorrow said his two years coaching at private schools has taught him that the level of coaching exceeds what is generally perceived. Private school coaches, he said, have earned his respect.
"People think that in private schools, the level of coaching goes down; no way," Sorrow said. "You'd be alarmed at the high level of coaching around here ... (Brentwood's) Bert Brown, (Thomas Jefferson's) Chuck Wimberly -- they could go coach anywhere and be successful."
Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.