WHITMIRE — Whitmire Wolverines Head Football Coach Charlie Jenkins and some of his players received all-region honors last week.
Union native Charlie Jenkins was named Coach of the Year for Region II-1A last week, and Whitmire players who were named to the all-region team included Devin Vo, Alex Ellison, West Jenkins and Cole Eison.
When Jenkins took over the role of Whitmire’s head coach in 2014, his team had 44 straight losses. Jenkins made changes, and the team dramatically improved to a 5-5 record, making it to the playoffs.
Before this year’s football season, Jenkins said that improvement put a lot of pressure on his team, and he vowed to focus on “keeping it simple.”
“Now, we have set the bar pretty high,” Jenkins said during this year’s summer practices. “Anything less than a winning record and a home playoff game will be disappointing from my perspective.”
From that standpoint, Jenkins was not disappointed. The Wolverines finished the season with a winning record for the first time since 2008. Their record was 6-5, which includes a loss in the playoffs.
Jenkins mentioned athletic director Donald Addis and assistant coaches, and he said everyone can be proud of the Coach of the Year award because everyone played a role in what the Whitmire football program has been able to do.
Jenkins also coached at Union High School and Sims for years, making an impact on numerous players and coaches in Union County as well.
Former Yellow Jacket QB and 1999 Shrine Bowl MVP Joe Pettit said he remains in contact with Jenkins years after football because he saw the way he coached — “the way it was supposed to be.”
“It’s no surprise his team has had success the way they have,” Pettit said. “It’s comforting to know that he has finally received some type of recognition for things he has been doing behind the scenes for years.”
Pettit praised Jenkins for taking initiative to complete tasks he said most others would not.
“If it was film to be sent to colleges for extra recruiting, he would make it happen,” Pettit said. “He always went the extra mile and believed everyone could play at the next level, and he made you believe that.”
Pettit remembered that Jenkins coached Sims football on Thursdays and assisted with the varsity team on Fridays.
“After the football game, he would run and drive three hours to distribute game film — and not digital — during the time of VHS tapes and snail mail,” Pettit said. “By the time we were there on Monday, every print publication we were pictured in would be laminated and in our lockers. He wasn’t told to do that or asked to do that.”
Pettit also remembered Jenkins taking it upon himself to mop and polish the gym floor at Sims or paint lines on the football field without being asked or paid to do so.
“He wanted what was there to be the best because he knew it would make his players better — make them proud,” Pettit said. “So it’s no surprise that he has had success in a head coach role. He led by example. That’s how much he cared.”
Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-762-4128 or firstname.lastname@example.org.