Carolina Forest cast a wide net searching for its next head football coach, evidenced by the range of people it is considering to replace Drew Hummel.
Two coaches said Tuesday they were among those who interviewed with the Grand Strand’s largest high school. Lower Richland quarterbacks coach and former Wagener-Salley head coach Ryan Russell said he met with Carolina Forest officials over the weekend. Ocean Bay Middle School physical education teacher and football coach Marc Lowery confirmed he interviewed for the position, although he refused further comment.
Lowery’s bio on the OBMS website states he is also the school’s basketball coach. Between football and basketball, that means he has prior relationships with some of the Carolina Forest players who came through that feeder school.
As far as Russell, the Coastal Carolina graduate said potentially returning to Horry County “would be a big opportunity, professionally and personally.”
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He served as an assistant coach at Conway while he was attending Coastal, where he graduated in 2001. He worked his way up to the head coaching position at Wagener-Salley in 2008 and 2009, although the school made a coaching change midway through his second season. After taking a year off to pursue his Master’s degree, Russell served as the receivers coach at Lancaster for two years and was the quarterbacks coach at Lower Richland this past fall.
Russell is certified as a math teacher.
He said he interviewed for the position on Saturday, and he did not know where he stood in terms of the school’s final decision.
“I felt the interview process was done in an organized and professional manner,” Russell said. “I thought they asked the right questions.”
Carolina Forest recently moved into the “Big 16” classification, a football-only moniker attached to the largest 16 schools in the state. Despite the growth in enrollment, the Panthers have yet to qualify for the Class AAAA playoffs since moving up in 2008.
It is not immediately clear exactly how many coaches were a part of the most recent round of interviews or when the school hopes to make an announcement. Carolina Forest Athletics Director Boe Rainbow has referred questions to Principal Gaye Driggers, who has not returned multiple requests since the school announced it needed a new coach.
Hummel stepped down Nov. 11 after a 1-10 season. Carolina Forest lost 18 games by double digits in Hummel’s last two seasons and was 30-57 overall in his eight years.