After previous Clay Central head football coach Steve Giddens stepped down in the summer, Herron took over.
He already was familiar with the program. After all, he was the defensive coordinator the previous season. The transition to head coach was smooth, but things took a turn when Herron’s father passed away a week before Clay Central opened the season.
“It was tough,” Herron said. “He actually went into the hospital the second day of practice, Aug. 6. For the next two-and-a-half weeks, I was here and there, missed a practice or two. The assistant coaches did an excellent job running practice and we’d talk at night. They knew what they were doing.
“Once my dad passed, I wasn’t around at all for a few days, but I got a lot of texts from the seniors and other players. A few of them made the trip up to Calera for the service, and it was something that they helped me through. For no matter how long I’m here, this team will always be special for a lot of reasons, but that will be one thing. They helped me and my family with expressions of love during that time.”
Despite everything off the field occurring, the Volunteers didn’t miss a beat on the field. As a result, Herron is The Anniston Star's All-Area coach of the year, which includes the newspaper's coverage area outside Calhoun County.
Clay Central finished the year 10-3, which included an 8-0 start.. The Volunteers were runner-up in Class 4A, Region 3 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs, which is the deepest run in school history. They fell to top-ranked Charles Henderson.
“I think the biggest thing is these seniors were determined to be as successful as or more so than the team last year. This year, we only had 13 seniors this year, and I think a lot of people were skeptical on what kind of season we’d have and the coaches were, too,” Herron said. “I thought the key for this team, and something we tried to emphasize, was to play with effort. We weren’t the biggest, strongest or fastest, but with great effort that can overcome a lot of areas.”
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star