By Linton Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org
Elbert County Head Football Coach Sid Fritts has announced his retirement, after leading the Blue Devils to their eighth state playoff appearance during his nine years here. Fritts, whose Blue Devil teams also won two region championships and reached the state quarterfinals three times, told WSGC News his decision was about a year in the making.
“The rumors have been out,” he said. “In fact, I almost took a job back in Tennessee last winter. We had started our four-on-one stuff with the players through the winter. It just felt I was running out on them if I left at that time and decided to stay another year. My wife went on back to Tennessee last year. So I had informed the board of my plans for the future, and I’m not real sure if it stayed as secretive as I had hoped.”
The Blue Devils wrapped up their 2018 season Friday night with a 7-4 overall record after a 27-14 loss to highly ranked Callaway in the first round of the state Class AA playoffs.
“We ended up having a good year,” Fritts said. “I’m real proud of our kids’ efforts this year. We let one get away here in the Granite Bowl, and it’s one of those that you’ll regret forever. We weren’t able to win the Union County game. We lost by one, which put us on the road in the playoffs, and drew the No. 5 team in the state. But I thought our kids went down and played them off their feet. We had a chance to tie the game with about eight minutes to go in the game and were unable to get it in the end zone. And they knocked another one in and ended up beating us 27-14. The effort our young men played with was typical of the young men here in Elbert County. I have been incredibly blessed in my career, even more so blessed in my Georgia coaching career, and it’s been a blessing to work here in Elbert County with the young men in our community.”
Fritts steps down with a 75-30 overall record at Elbert County and a 174-53-2 mark in his 20-year Georgia head coaching career.
“We’ve had some really good players and had some outstanding assistant coaches,” he said. “I’ve been the recipient of those fortunes and have been able to ride along with them.”
During Fritts’ tenure, numerous Blue Devils have gone on to play college football, including FBS level players Taj Letman at Marshall, Tyshon Dye at Clemson and current star Mecole Hardman at Georgia.
“Those are the feel-good stories, but then there are others. We’ve had a lot of guys play FCS, which used to be I-AA, guys have played I-A, we’ve had them play Division II, junior college. The championships are really nice, but the relationship you build with these young men and try to make an impact in their lives and maybe change the dynamics of their life is what’s really rewarding.”
Fritts, who turns 62 in December, said he is not sure whether this is a permanent retirement from coaching, or when he will be departing from the school district.
“I’ve been part of a team for a long time, and to not be part of a team as either a player or a coach is kind of strange,” he said. “I don’t really know how long that will last, but I would like to see how it feels to be able to get out to Colorado to see my grandchild, go out to Alabama to see my grandchild, Tennessee to see my grandchild on my time and not have to work it around a recruiting trip or a clinic or an all-star game or whatever the case may be. I’m not real sure of the plans. I’ve got to talk with the administration. Looking at retirement, there are some advantages of leaving in February because of the sick day levels. That’s something that I’ve got to sit down and see how it works for them as well as it works for me.”
Until the current school year, Fritts also served as athletic director at the high school. Under his leadership, the Elbert County program won the statewide all-sports trophy for Class AA last year.
“I’ve been an athletic director for 20 years, and then to end that run as the best in AA was quite an accomplishment for our program,” Fritts said. “That’s a lot of folks pitching in to help achieve that award. It’s been a wonderful experience. My daughter started and finished here, my youngest. Cindy and I own a home out on the lake, and the community has been wonderful to us. Just know that we love Elbert County and the people in Elbert County.”