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Pickering to leave Sumter-Central

Sumter-Central head coach Andre Pickering will resign Monday.

Pickering, who spent two years at Livingston High School before the institution merged with rival Sumter County High this year, took the Jaguars to the playoffs in their inaugural season.

“We put two losing teams together and went 8-2 on the football field,” Pickering said of the job his staff did this year.

The Jaguar season was marred by AHSAA-forced forfeitures due to the utilization of an ineligible player. The AHSAA penalty also kept Pickering from coaching in the team’s playoff game, a loss to Thomasville.

Pickering, whose wife still resides in Douglasville, Ga., said that his next move will put him closer to home as he reports having accepted the job at Monroe High School in Clayton, Ga.

“It is about 30 minutes from my house,” he said of Monroe High. “(Getting the job) meant a lot because, first of all, they are a 6A school. They’ve got 1,400 kids in the school. They play real good football over there. Also, I’m getting a $30,000 dollar raise.”

Pickering said his next challenge will be similar to the last one he took on as he attempts to resurrect a long underachieving football program.

“Before I got to Livingston, they hadn’t had a winning season since 1991,” he said. “Monroe hasn’t had a winning season since 1984. I’m looking forward to just going in and turning that thing around like we did here.”

While Pickering took Livingston to a seven-win season in 2010, his 2011 challenge was much greater with the merging of two long-time rivals into a single school.

“One kid from Sumter came off the field and literally punched me. That’s how the rivalry was,” he said, pointing to the state of the team prior to the character sessions his team endured. “We didn’t attack their athletic ability, we attacked their character. The first thing we did, we got them in the classroom and we worked on their character all day long.”

For the Jaguars, the end result was a playoff appearance and a reported 11 players who will sign college football scholarships Wednesday.

“To end it with 11 kids signing football scholarships and three more kids having an opportunity to sign a scholarship, that was more special than any game I could win,” PIckering said.

While his next on-the-field challenge will be similar to his previous, Pickering’s latest off-the-field obstacle is unlike anything he has previousy encountered.

He and his wife, Barbara, are adopting nephew Isaiah following the untimely death of Pickering’s sister, Melissa, at 36 years old back in November.

“It has been more like being a father 24 hours. I consider myself a father to these (players) because some of these kids don’t have their dads in their lives,” he said. “But when you’re fathering an 11-year-old, it is different because you are fathering a boy who is trying to become a teenager. When you go through the nine-month thing, you have time to prepare for it. This sprung up all at once.”

Pickering said he intends to work out a notice.

Sumter-Central will make the jump to Class 5A next season under the latest AHSAA reclassification.