SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. (WRCB) -- For nearly 50 years, South Pittsburg football has been in the hands of the Grider family.
Next year there will be a fresh face atop the Pirates program.
Veteran head coach Vic Grider resigned as South Pittsburg's head coach during the team's season-ending banquet Wednesday night. The move ends a 16-year run that was one of the most successful tenures in Chattanooga area high school history.
"It was getting to the time where I needed to take a step back. It's time to make some things that haven't been as important as they should be, a little more important in my life," Grider said from his assistant principal's office Thursday afternoon.
"There's things in my daughter's life that I've missed because of it. She's in eighth grade and about to go into high school, and I don't want to miss a lot of those things. I want to be a part of a lot of those things."
Grider won 81-percent of his games at his alma mater since taking the job in 1996. His final overall record stands at 162-43 with three state championships (1997, 2007 and 2010) and two state runner-up finishes (2009 and 2011).
The Pirates finished 8-4 in his final season, losing to eventual state champion Gordonsville by one point in the second round.
"I've been thinking about it for awhile, but I wanted to make sure I left at a point when I knew things were still going to be good in the future," said Grider, who leaves a roster that graduates just seven seniors this year. "I would never have left it in a bad spot or in a tough financial situation.
"I care that much about it and I want it to continue to be what it's been."
What it's been is a perennial powerhouse.
Vic's father, the late Don Grider, won 192 games as South Pittsburg's head coach from 1969-1992, making their combined 354 wins the most for a father-son duo in Tennessee state history.
"Vic's teams are always tough, hard-nosed and disciplined," said Boyd-Buchanan head coach Grant Reynolds, whose Bucs have been a long-time South Pittsburg rival. "But the main thing is they've always played with class. I've always had the utmost respect for them. They're a measuring stick for all programs around here."
Grider won another state title with the program in 1994 while serving as defensive coordinator under Danny Wilson, who is currently Grider's defensive coordinator.
However, his teams offensive numbers were quite prolific, as well.
In numbers compiled by the Times Free Press, Grider's teams have scored 50 or more points 71 times in the last 16 years. Cleveland's 42 such performances are the next closest in the category. In the six years since the TSSAA implemented the mercy rule, the Pirates have beaten won 53 of their 83 games by at least that 35-point margin.
"Everyone always wanted to talk about their speed, but what goes with their speed is their physical toughness and the great technique they use. Those two things are traits of great coaches," said Lookout Valley head coach Tony Webb. "One of the things I respect most about him is how he's been able to change what he does offensively and defensively to mesh with his personnel.
"We don't recruit. We have to work with the kids we have. And whether it was changing from the Wing-T or the spread, he found whatever fit best with his kids' talents. It's just another trait of a great coach."
Grider also serves as the school's athletic director, assistant principal and softball coach. Earlier this year he also added interim principal to his list of duties, so he'll have plenty of influence in the hiring of his replacement.
He hopes to have a new coach in place by February, and expects the hire will come from outside the program.
"There's no regrets. I haven't thought twice about it since I decided. I know it's just time for South Pittsburg football to move in a new direction," Grider said. "I've been blessed with an abundance of really talented players and some great coaches along the way. They've helped us continue the tradition that makes this program what it is, which is so much bigger than any one coach could ever be.
"Just the fact that I got to do exactly what I wanted to do in the only place I ever wanted to do it, makes me feel like a very lucky person."
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