LAUREL, Miss. (WDAM) - Todd Breland sat in his office, flipping through a list of former Laurel head football coaches - a program that dates back to 1907.
Breland added his name to that list on Wednesday morning.
The eight-year head coach of the Golden Tornadoes decided to step down on Tuesday night after 82 wins, two South State championships and the 2014 state title. Breland will resume his duties at athletic director.
“Laurel has been a big part of my family,” Breland said. “I’m forever grateful for everything we’ve been able to experience together. I just knew it was time and I had the right guy in there.”
That guy is Laurel grad Ryan Earnest, who Breland hired as his offensive coordinator in June.
Earnest spent the previous three seasons as head coach of Ridgeland High School. He led Collins to two straight Class 2A state championships in 2014 and 2015. Prior to joining Collins in 2012, Earnest had assistant coaching stops at Wayne County (2007-2011), Sumrall (2006) and Laurel (2004-05).
“As much as I love that place, I wanted to make sure it was taken care of,” Breland said. “I knew with my heart that [Earnest] was the next guy to take the reigns. We know that the program is in good hands, not just the football program but the kids are in good hands.”
Breland coached his successor from his 7th-grade year through high school. Earnest captured his first state title with Collins on the same day Breland led Laurel to the 2014 Class 5A championship.
Beyond the on-field success, Breland hopes he made an impact on the countless young men he coached from 2012-2019.
“I coached fathers and turned around and coached their sons,” Breland said. “There’s been so many great games, but what I remember the most - and I always tell the kids what you’re going to remember the most is the things that go on inside these four walls.
It’s been the relationships with kids and watching them become adults which has been the most satisfying.”