ELLISVILLE, MS (WDAM) - Five years ago, Roger Satcher got a phone call that took him out of the principal's office and back to the football field.
Now, Satcher will be running his own program on a full-time basis for the first time.
The long-time high school coach and administrator was confirmed earlier this month by the Jones County Board of Education as the new head football coach at South Jones High School.
Satcher, 54, who spent the past four football seasons as the Braves' defensive coordinator, takes over from Cory Reynolds, who resigned as South Jones head coach to become offensive coordinator for a second time at Petal High School under mentor Marcus Boyles.
"It's going to be a tough job, but it's going to be a good job," Satcher said Monday afternoon. "I'm really looking forward to it."
Satcher has spent 33 years in the high schools ranks in Mississippi and Alabama, including assistant coaching jobs at West Lauderdale, Wayne County and South Jones high schools.
Reynolds was a player for Satcher at Wayne County in the early 90s and made his coach a promise.
"He told me that when he ever got a head (coaching) job, that he would call me to coach for him, and I promised that I would," Satcher said.
That call came five years ago, when Satcher was principal at Quitman Junior High School.
In four years, he helped Reynolds and the Braves rebuild. South Jones went 24-24, posting winning seasons in each of the last three years. In 2017, the Braves reached the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
"Coach Reynolds does an excellent job, and, hopefully, we'll be able to keep building on what's been done," Satcher said.
That won't come without some strain. Satcher said the Braves lost 20 seniors who had been the lynchpins of the process that returned the once-proud South Jones football program to prominence.
"We're going to be young, but we still have a number of kids who have been here but just haven't played much," Satcher said. "We're going to need them to step up."
The Braves are expected to return an experienced offensive line in front one of the Pine Belt's top returning quarterbacks in senior John Mitchell.
As a junior, Mitchell threw for more than 1,800 yards and rushed for more than 850 yards.
"He's been indispensable," Satcher said. "Last year, he accounted for about 2,000 yards passing and about 1,000 yards rushing, so we're very glad to have him back.
Satcher said the Braves will face some challenges heading into the new year, but added that he and South Jones have been down that path already.
"Last year, we had two starters returning on defense and nobody was expecting us to win eight ballgames," Satcher said.
Satcher, who had two stints as interim head football coach at West Lauderdale, said he's in the process of filling out his coaching staff and getting more students out for football.
"We need to get some other people coming out and fill some shoes," Satcher said. "We'll have our work cut out for us, and need some people to step up, but I'm looking forward to it."