Muscle Shoals at Oxford

Oxford head coach Ryan Herring during the Muscle Shoals at Oxford game. Photo by Bill Wilson / The Anniston Star

Winning is always special, but it’s a little more special when you can win at your alma mater.

That’s what Oxford head coach Ryan Herring got to experience this year.

Herring led the Yellow Jackets to their first official undefeated regular season since 1993 and a Class 6A, Region 7 championship. The Yellow Jackets finished with a 10-1 record and made it to the playoffs before losing to Muscle Shoals in the first round.

For all Herring accomplished this season, he was selected as The Anniston Star’s Class 4A-6A Calhoun County football coach of the year.

Herring played at Oxford and his father is legendary Oxford coach Robert Herring, who won three state championships during his time as head coach.

Herring said it made it a little more special to be successful where he’s from.

“Oxford has always been home to me,” Herring said. “It doesn’t matter to me where I am, I still want to win, but being back home and having the year we had did make it more special.”

Herring is quick to give credit to his players and assistant coaches for the season they had. “When you get an award like coach of the year, it just means that you’ve got great assistant coaches and great players because you wouldn’t get it if you didn’t,” Herring said. “This is just a testament to those guys.”

While Herring may give the credit to his assistant coaches and players, he does deserve credit for bringing in two big-time additions to his coaching staff in the offseason. Herring hired two former head coaches in Lee Ozmint and Scott Peavey. Ozmint had a lot of success as head coach at Glencoe, and Peavey had similar success at Madison County.

Herring also helped the team go from being 3-7 and missing the playoffs to being 10-1 and being region champs.

Herring credits experience for the big turnaround.

“This year we had some seniors, juniors and sophomores that had all played the year before. We didn’t have that last year,” Herring said. “It doesn’t matter who you’re playing or what league you’re in when you’re having to play kids that young then you’re not going to win. It was great to see the kids go through that year and then go through what we went through this year. It was great to see the turnaround.”

He said it was a year he won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

“It was awesome,” he said. “It was awesome to be a part of and humbling to be around some of the guys we had. We had a great group of seniors and we had a lot of good kids. That’s the main thing we want and strive for is to have high-character kids. When you have kids like we had this year, it makes it really enjoyable as a coach.”

Sports Writer Will Gaines: 256-235-3577. On Twitter: @wgaines_star.