Coach McCall reflects on leading Cavaliers
The Bill McCall Era has come to a close at St. John’s Christian Academy.
McCall announced to the school he was leaving the football program effective June 1 to pursue other career opportunities. He took time to reflect on his years at SJCA and the teams he’s coached over the years.
“Coaching at St. John’s has been a privilege,” he said, “Working with those kids, developing relationships with people, and also creating some friendly competition with other teams. St. John’s is a great place to be, the atmosphere there reminds you of the old hometown football games.
“The games are clean and fun for the entire family to come and enjoy.”
McCall has been involved as a coach of the Cavaliers for 12 years, the past seven as head coach. He produced an overall record of 68-47 including the 2012 SCISA 8-Man Football Lower State Championship, and earned his coaching wings under Berkeley legend Francis Wilson.
“Coach Wilson taught me as a player and a coach about the importance of tough love and began steering me in the direction of the importance that consistency makes in a young person’s life.”
The following season Wilson retired and McCall took over as head coach, inheriting a young Cavaliers team during his inaugural campaign, and picking up his first win as a head coach against St. Paul’s Country Day School. It is a season he said he’d never forget.
“Ninety percent of our team was comprised of freshmen and sophomores and I was the greenest coach in the league,” he said. “We went 2-8 and I was concerned that everyone was discouraged about the program.”
The Cavaliers made the playoffs in each of the next three seasons, which included a pair of state championship game appearances in 2004 and 2005, but as is the nature of the beast with small schools, McCall found himself back in rebuilding mode. It is during these times McCall feels a coach earns his stripes.
“I honestly believe that from a coach’s standpoint the most learning is done during these seasons,” he said. “I believe I learned more about football, team orientation, and life adjustments with a new team came new techniques, new schemes.”
He drew on the teaching of his former coach, who emphasized consistency in performance as the Cavaliers moved from 8-man to 11-man football in the fall of 2008.
“We had some great success the first two seasons,” he said, but again endured the rebuilding process in 2010 and 2011 before returning to 8-man football in 2012.
McCall cites his most memorable game coming during the 2005 season, beating 2004 SCISA State Champion Jefferson Davis Academy in Blackville: “The memory of this game is more than just beating the team that beat us in the state championship game the year before. It was a season changing performance with some remarkable kids.
McCall added there were some “great athletes” on the 2005 Cavaliers to include Dan Donelson and Taylor Tucker, “two great athletes that contributed tremendously to that team.”
McCall also had the privilege of being coach to his younger brother John.
“What was very heartwarming was watching my brother John, Daniel Spivey, Benjamin Bishop, and Caleb Rodgers play so hard that game to help win,” he said. “I watched those boys grow up in Pinopolis, and watching them turn into competitive young men was very rewarding.”
McCall said whoever takes over the reins of Cavalier football will have a great opportunity to build and work with some great young athletes. St. John’s, he added, is a special place to work.
“The administration is great to work with and they strive hard to make sure you have everything you need to work the boys as hard as you can,” he said.
McCall thanked his assistant coaches, the players, the SJCA administration and board, and the Cavalier parents for their support over the years.
“It was an honor to work with the young boys up there and my heart is with you and I look forward to coming and watching them play.”