Thursday, April 3, 2014
The coaching carousel continues to spin at Stratford High School.
One era begins on Crowfield Boulevard while another is in the 11th hour.
Defensive coordinator Joe Marion was promoted to head football coach after 26 years as an assistant under the retiring Ray Stackley.
And Knights baseball coach John Chalus has accepted the posts of athletic director and assistant principal at the school, replacing Stackley as AD.
Stackley announced his retirement in February, leading to openings in football and AD.
The first step in replacing Stackley was hiring Chalus as AD. He will step down as baseball coach following the current season after 23 years in charge of the program, and will also relinquish his spot on the football staff as wide receivers coach. Chalus was an assistant for four years before taking over the baseball program in 1992.
“It’s like I tell the players all the time,” Chalus said, “at some point baseball will be over... You’ve got to be able to fall back on your education. Now, I’m using the master’s degree I got back in 2000 (from The Citadel). It’s another stage of my life.”
Chalus has “around 460 career victories” and a state title and is in his 23rd season as head coach of the Knights this spring.
He has coached players such as current major leaguers Matt Wieters (Orioles) and Justin Smoak (Mariners).
In all, 11 Stratford products have been drafted by MLB teams. Including first-round picks Wieters and Smoak, five Knights are playing professionally.
Chalus also leaves the classroom. As a U.S. History teacher, he was named the school’s teacher of the year for 2011-12.
“It’s tough,” he said. “I love being around the kids. I’m still going to work to be around them.”
Chalus will have a say-so in his replacement for baseball. A number of former Stratford players coaching in the Lowcountry could be candidates.
Bishop England’s Mike Darnell, Berkeley’s Landy Cox and Woodland’s Keith Lowman are all former Knights. Also, current Cane Bay High School coach Shane Todd is a former Chalus assistant.
This year’s Stratford baseball team is 2-7 overall and 0-4 in Region 7-AAAA after getting swept by Wando last week. Stratford has just three seniors, though, so the new coach will inherit an experienced squad.
Marion has been Stratford’s defensive coordinator since Bob Hayes left for Wando in 2000. Before that, he was the Knights’ middle linebackers coach going back to 1988.
“I can’t say I was ready for Ray to leave because he was great to coach with,” Marion said. “I loved coaching with him... We hope to continue taking the program where it’s been the last few years.”
Marion does have some head coaching experience. He had two short stints at now-defunct SCISA schools St. Stephen Academy and Andrews Academy. He coached at St. Stephen for a year and two at Andrews Academy.
This past season the Knights advanced to the championship game before losing to Northwestern. The defensive unit led by Marion was one of the top groups in the state this past fall. The Knights were 12-3 behind a senior-laden group.
Marion was one of four candidates interviewed for the job. Stratford offensive coordinator Dennie McDaniel and Goose Creek High School assistants Chris Candor and Rob D’Amato were the other three.
“I wanted to be a head coach again, especially at such a good school,” Marion said.
Marion joins older brother Bobby in the Lowcountry coaching ranks. Bobby, also a former Stratford assistant, is the head football coach at West Ashley. Bobby is almost 17 months older than Joe.
Spring practice begins May 5. Marion expects the Knights to practice four days a week for three consecutive weeks before concluding spring with a game.