Jerry Payne felt like it was the right time.
After four years of serving as the head coach of the Charleston High School football team, Payne has officially submitted his letter of resignation to step down as the varsity football coach. In his four years, Payne’s 4-2 season in 2021 is the lone winning season since 2012, while he owns 13 of the 18 wins since Charleston’s last playoff berth.
The position will be posted pending the board’s approval of his resignation.
“At this time, I felt I needed to step away and spend more time with my family,” said Payne. “Personally, I felt the time was right.”
Payne took over the program in 2018 after Charleston went a combined 5-49 between 2013 and 2018. In his first season, the Trojans went 3-6. In his second year, the team lost the fall season and it was moved to the spring. The IHSA cut the football playoffs due to COVID-19 and shortened the season to six games. With a 4-2 record, many believe that this would have been Charleston’s first playoff berth in eight seasons.
Charleston followed that with a 2-7 record in the fall of 2021. This past season, Charleston started the year 0-5 but rallied with four consecutive wins to finish 4-5. Payne was 13-20 during his four years as head coach.
Payne believes whoever leads the team next season is in a prime position to end the playoff drought.
“I think the program is on the edge of making a run at the playoffs. I just hope whoever takes over will be able to push them to the next level,” said Payne. “Working with players who give their all. Being on the field either practice or games along with the other coaches. I will miss the time I spent with my staff. They were a great group of men for sure.”
Payne will remain a teacher at Charleston and looks forward to seeing how the team improves and hopes the athletes continue to learn valuable life experiences.
“I have coached since 1996 with the exception of 2015 and 2017 and have had a good time coaching over the years at the different levels here and one year in Oakland,” said Payne. “I have met some very good men and worked with some good young men during that time. For me, it wasn’t always about the wins or losses but about the players and coaches. A former coach told me once when I was done with playing that football is more than the game, it is about life experiences. I have always tried to treat my players as young men and tried to teach them how to make decisions, work together with others on a goal, and install good work habits.”