Former Stags, Wolves defensive coordinator back in county
A familiar face to Berkeley County football has resurfaced at Hanahan.
Steve Blanchard, formerly the defensive coordinator at Berkeley and Timberland high schools, has taken the same position at the Murray Drive school after four years as the top man at Andrews High School.
“It feels like I’m at home,” said Blanchard, who was 19-24 at Andrews. “It feels wonderful. It’s great to be back.”
He inherits a defensive unit that is one of the most experienced in the area. Ten of the 11 projected starters this season are back from last fall. And plenty others got substantial experience in 2012.
“I think I stepped into a gold mine,” Blanchard said. “It really was a great, unexpected thing to have all these starters back. It’s just my job to blend what we’re going to do with what they did last year and build upon that success.”
Blanchard takes over for Kevin Phillips, who held the position for one season.
A year ago, Hanahan was 11-2 and made the third round of the Class AAA playoffs.
Blanchard and the Yellow Jackets struggled last season, going 2-9. It came on the heels of his top season, 8-4 in 2011. That campaign was Andrews’ best since going 8-3 in 2005.
Ironically, Blanchard’s spot at Andrews was filled by a Berkeley County assistant coach. Scott Durham left Goose Creek to take over the Yellow Jackets.
“Being a head coach at a small school was a good experience,” Blanchard said. “It helped me realize that being a coordinator at a school is the best job in the world. (Stratford coach) Ray Stackley told me that a long time ago. It really just gave me a healthier respect for everything that goes with being a head coach. It was a great experience and helps me be a better assistant coach.”
Blanchard, also the school’s strength and conditioning coach, brings a healthy energy to the sidelines. He balances a no-nonsense approach with the right amount of praise.
“I think if you’re going to coach football, you’ve got to have energy and be enthusiastic,” HHS coach Charlie Patterson said. “It’s a game of emotion and you’ve got to be able to light a fire under them some times. You can’t coach without enthusiasm and energy.”
Blanchard said he recognizes this season’s defense has a chance to be special. The Hawks have depth at every level.
“The whole thing about good versus great is how much they want to play together,” Blanchard said. “If nine people are out there doing it right and two are doing it wrong, then you’re not going to be successful. They have the talent. They’re strong. They’re fast. They’re quick. It’s about being fundamentally sound and them doing what their coaches tell them to do.”
So far so good on that front, he indicated at a recent practice.
“They’re very respectful and very receptive to coaching,” Blanchard said. “… We do have potential but what are we going to do with it?”
Blanchard, a 1984 Berkeley High School graduate, is a member of the Charleston Southern Hall of Fame. He played for the Bucs from 1985-89.
He eventually served as assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator at CSU for three years.
Blanchard then led the Estill program for three years (1992-94) before making stops as an assistant at Georgetown and Lake City high schools.
He returned to Berkeley as an assistant under Jerry Brown in 1998. Blanchard was at Timberland from 2004-08 and was named the 2007 South Carolina Strength Coach of the Year.
“When I was 12, I knew I wanted to coach,” Blanchard said. “I enjoy what I do. This isn’t work. The biggest satisfaction I get is when I get a kid in ninth grade that isn’t real strong or real big, but by the time they’re seniors they have something.”