Clay-Central's D.J. Ford Signs With North Carolina

Kris Herron, head football coach at Clay Central, takes a photo at National Signing Day in 2016. Photo by Bill Wilson / The Anniston Star

The area high school football scene will miss one of the best coaches and gentlemen to coach, now that Clay Central’s Kris Herron has resigned with an eye toward retirement after this school year.

What Clay County did during his 19 years as an assistant and three years as head coach, after Danny Horn left for Benjamin Russell, speaks for itself. Herron was a defensive coach, and the Panthers were known for defense through six state-championship runs and a 55-game winning streak.

Former Parade All-American Stanford Simmons, one of Herron’s top proteges, was one of the most feared safeties under Friday night lights back then.

In five years as Clay Central’s head coach, Herron has led the Vols to the playoffs every year, despite reclassification from 4A to 5A in the school’s third season, Herron’s second as head coach.

What stands out as much as anything, however, was how gracefully Herron accepted transition, when Clay County and Lineville merged to form Clay Central after the 2011-12 school year. He and Lineville’s Steve Giddens were head coaches. Herron had won two of his three Clay Bowls as a head coach, including the last, but Giddens had more tenure as a head coach.

Giddens was the natural choice to lead Clay Central at its start, and Herron gracefully accepted the step back to defensive coordinator for the good of the program.

Giddens moved on after that first year, and Herron moved up. His 74-27 record as a head coach speaks for itself.

Herron has put up an admirable 25 years as an assistant and head coach. He’ll be missed under Friday night lights.

Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.