Two years ago, Mark Daniel thought Thomson High School might be the last stop on his journey in high school football coaching circles. Such didn't pan out, though.
"I really thought that Thomson was going to be the place where my family and I could put down roots," said Coach Daniel during a telephone interview with The McDuffie Mirror on Tuesday night. "But the Lord works in mysterious ways and I've tried to follow His path."
Coach Daniel left his head football coaching position at Screven County High School in Sylvania two years ago to become assistant athletic director, head assistant football coach and offensive coordinator at Thomson High School. THS Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Luther Welsh had been experiencing some medical problems at the time that some thought might ultimately lead to his having to leave his positions.
His former coach was eyed as his possible replacement. And when offered the job, Coach Daniel accepted and soon moved to Thomson.
"That was the plan for me to become the athletic director and head football coach at Thomson High," Coach Daniel confirmed.
Just before Christmas, Coach Welsh informed his reported would-be predecessor that he had planned to work another five years and that if he wanted to look around for a job as a head football coach that he could feel free to do so.
In having informed him, Coach Daniel said, "He was thinking of me when he told me about his decision. He didn't know if I wanted to stick around as an assistant coach for that period of time."
It was at that time that Coach Daniel began to think about his future and what might be best for him and his family.
Rumors then began circulating in football circles around the state that Coach Daniel might be looking for a job as a head football coach. And when school officials in Wayne County heard such, they telephoned Coach Daniel.
"We had heard the rumors like a lot of people that Coach Daniel might be interested in leaving Thomson High," said Wayne County School Superintendent Kendell Keith. "We knew that he was in an outstanding position at Thomson High School."
Wayne County High School Principal James Pulos ended up contacting Thomson High Principal Rudy Falana, according to Mr. Keith, which resulted in a telephone conversation between Coach Daniel and Wayne County school officials.
It transpired into Coach Daniel being invited to talk with school officials during an executive session of the Wayne County Board of Education on Tuesday. Later that night, during the regular BOE meeting, school board members unanimously selected Coach Daniel to become the new athletic director and head football coach at Wayne County High School.
"We are extremely pleased that Coach Daniel has accepted these positions at our high school," Mr. Keith said. "We believe that he brings a great amount of organization and coaching ability to a football program that needs a shot in the arm."
The Wayne County Yellow Jackets have suffered dismal 1-9 football seasons the last two years.
Mr. Keith said he and McDuffie County School Superintendent Mark Petersen have discussed the possibility of Coach Daniel being allowed an early release from his contract. Dr. Petersen said such may come to pass during the next school board meeting, which is slated for March 20.
"We wish Coach Daniel well down in Wayne County," Dr. Petersen said. "We will miss both him and his wife, who works as a teacher for us over at Norris Elementary."
Information from the The Press-Sentinel in Jesup, Ga., was used in this report.