One round of interviews was enough for a Conway search committee to find its top choice to become the Tigers’ next football coach.
The school will have to move on to its second choice.
West Florence’s Jody Jenerette - who was selected after Thursday’s interviews and formally offered the job Tuesday - has elected to stay in his current position.
“When I stepped foot on the campus of West Florence five years ago, I absolutely fell in love with this place,” Jenerette said Wednesday morning. “It’s special. I tell people that all the time and I’m not sure if they really understand. The administration of Conway High School were as first class as they could have possibly been. Conway football will be fine. I’ve prayed and agonized over this decision more than anything in my coaching life.”
Conway will now move on to its next candidate in hopes of providing a name for approval from the Horry County Schools’ regularly scheduled board meeting on Monday evening. That name will not be Jenerette’s.
The former Aynor head coach and Conway assistant had long been rumored to be the Tigers’ head coach eventually. He was an assistant coach under Chuck Jordan for six years during one of the program’s heydays before taking over at Aynor. He then interviewed twice for the Conway opening in January of 2018, when the job was ultimately given to long-time assistant Carlton Terry.
When Terry was fired in November after going 24-34 in six seasons, Jenerette’s name immediately shot to the top of several influential wish lists for the position again.
Conway Athletics Director Anthony Carroll refused comment, citing a confidentiality agreement he signed. Conway Principal Tanika McKissick could not be reached for comment. MyHorryNews.com has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to Horry County Schools; the district typically responds to those on the day of or directly after a board approval. In the meantime, multiple sources involved in the search have spoken on the condition of anonymity before and since Thursday’s interviews. They each either provided or confirmed the committee’s top four candidates’ order. Additionally, they provided information on all eight interviewees.
According to those sources, the committee was asked to vote following the conclusion of the first round of interviews, as opposed to cutting down to a list for a second round of meetings. The initial vote was 7-1 in favor of Jenerette. After a group discussion, that one voter changed course to make it unanimous.
It ended a fast-paced day in which each candidate was limited to 30 minutes, with a timer visible to those who interviewed.
Jenerette, who has lived in Conway since he coached at Aynor, was 56-83 in his 13 seasons with the Blue Jackets at a time when Aynor was considered one of the most difficult jobs in the state. He left in March of 2018 - a little over one month after Terry was approved at Conway. Jenerette was then targeted by West Florence and took over the Knights’ program in mid-April of that year.
In the time since, he’s won 45 games despite two abbreviated seasons. He won his 100th overall victory in the team’s opening round of the playoffs last fall. The Knights made it to at least the third round of the playoffs three times in his five seasons, and last year they advanced to the Class 4A Lower State final.
Sources have said that with Jenerette out of the equation, the committee’s ranked-choice votes of a Class 5A head coach, a head coach from North Carolina and a Class 4A coordinator could all possibly come into the picture.