At just 29 years old, Greenville Christian School head football coach Jon Reed McLendon still has many more decades to master his craft.
But this season, Coach McLendon said he grew by leaps and bounds at his profession as he led the Saints to the MAIS Class 3A State Football Championship. It was the second state title in school history for Greenville Christian, the other coming in 1982. On Nov. 20, the Saints defeated Carroll Academy 52-20 to claim the title.
“It was a difficult job this season to have the kids come together so quickly,” said Coach McLendon, in his seventh year as coach. “We got them to trust each other, and we got them to play for something bigger than themselves.”
Because of the first-rate job Coach McLendon did to bring his talented roster together and bring the state’s top trophy home to Greenville, Coach McLendon has been named the 2020 Delta Democrat-Times Football Coach of the Year.
Coach McLendon said he was pleased to receiving the award for being the top coach, but he did not want to take away from his players.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, in August Coach McLendon had a number of players join his team. At top of the list was star quarterback D.J. Smith, a Greenwood transfer, who is rated one of the best high school quarterbacks in the state.
“I know we had some great players, but it was not easy,” the GCS coach said. “These kids really wanted to win so I had to find ways to prepare better. For me, I learned how to prepare better during the week.”
The Saints finished this season with an 11-1 record with their only loss coming to Tri-County Academy in the opening game of the season, before many of this year’s Saints had even joined the team. After their first-game stumble, McLendon’s Saints got stronger and stronger each game to go undefeated the rest of the way.
Thanks to Coach McLendon’s leadership their was no jealousy between the older and newer Saints.
GCS stars like Marlon Palmer and Will Riley quickly jelled with newcomers like Daishun Scott and Joshua Martin.
“The stakes were different with this team because they were so talented. We knew fairly early on what this team could do, and I am so proud of what the players have accomplished,” Coach McLendon said.