For the first time, Tony Kirkland felt tired this year after coaching both football and baseball.
And that has led to his decision to step down from his position as the Colquitt County football team’s defensive ends coach.
Kirkland said he might continue to work with the seventh- or eighth-grade football team and could help the varsity in some capacity on Friday nights.
And he will, of course, continue as the head coach of the Colquitt County High baseball team.
Packers coach Rush Propst said Kirkland’s workload is likely to be split among defensive coordinator Travis Pearson, defensive tackles coach Greg Tillery and Andy Harden, who has been hired to work with the ninth-grade defensive line.
“You can’t replace Tony’s expertise, but we’ll be OK,” Propst said.
Propst said he appreciated what Kirkland has done for the program the last two seasons.
“He is as good a technician as anyone who has ever worked for me,” Propst said. “He has such great attention to detail.”
But it was time for Kirkland to take a step back.
“It’s been fun, no doubt,” Kirkland said. “But it’s been a lot of years going back to back.
“It’s a big decision. And I knew at some point I’d have to do it.”
During the last school year, he worked with the football team until mid-December when the Packers reached the state championship game.
And last spring, he led the Colquitt County baseball team to the state semifinals, where the Packers were eliminated by eventual state champion Parkview.
“This is the first time I can remember being just physically tired all the time,” said Kirkland, who has been doing football and baseball since he got into coaching in 1991.
Kirkland coached both sports for one season before coming to Colquitt County in 1992. He was at Colquitt County from 1992-2003 before going to South Effingham from 2003-2009.
He returned to Colquitt County in 2009 and has coached both sports the last two years.
“Coach Propst has been wonderful to me,” Kirkland said. “Anything I needed, he made sure it happened.”
Stepping back from the enormous amount of time football coaches put in year-round will allow Kirkland to spend more time with his younger sons, Caison and Coy.
His oldest son Colin is a member of the Colquitt County High baseball team.
“I’ve never been able to watch them do anything,” he said. “It’s time for them to get a piece of daddy.”