Jep Irwin steps down as SLHS football coach to take over as SLHS Athletic Director

·3 min read

Jun. 13—LONDON — Jep Irwin has stepped down as head coach of the South Laurel High School football program to become the athletic director at South Laurel High School, replacing former athletic director Ryan Nolan, who resigned a couple of weeks ago.

Irwin returned to South Laurel this past season after 16 years for a second stint as coach of the Cardinal football program. He guided the Cardinals to a 1-9 mark this past fall.

"I've always seen myself as someone who can help a team or organization in a leadership capacity," Irwin said. "I have enjoyed my time as a coach over the last 28 years. While the timing is not ideal for our football team to make a change, this was too good of an opportunity for me to not pursue. I can still support our football team of course as AD but also I am excited to have this new role working with all of our coaches, administrators, parents, players, and community supporters. And I love South Laurel. I am fortunate to be back and be given this opportunity at my alma mater."

Irwin's departure means he will now begin a search for South Laurel's ninth football coach.

"It was a difficult decision for sure, especially given the timing, but I know we will continue to have strong administrative support and we will move quickly to find our next head coach," he said. "It makes it easier knowing that I will be able to help the program and advise the new head coach as well.

"I'm still going to be around, just in a different role now," Irwin added. "Nobody wants our football program, like all of our programs, to be successful more than I do. Stability and continuity for our players on the team now is our primary concern. We have come a long way since January 2021 and we want a head coach that will continue to work hard for our players and provide leadership for the overall program."

Irwin began as a volunteer assistant coach with South Laurel in 1994, volunteering at both the middle and high schools. Irwin then became a full-time assistant coach for six years, including being a defensive coordinator for four years.

Irwin took over the South Laurel football program as head coach in 2002. He led the Cardinals to a 9-3 mark during his final season with the Cardinals and secured a 24-20 record during his four years at South Laurel. He is also the last coach to lead the Cardinal football program to a playoff win, a 40-28 victory over Lafayette on Nov. 4, 2005.

Irwin spent 2019, and 2020 as head coach of the Whitley County Colonels where he posted a 10-10 record. He also led the Colonels to the Class 5A playoffs in both of his years as coach, which included a postseason win in 2019.

Before coming to Whitley County, Irwin spent nine seasons as head coach of Georgia's Lassiter High School football program where he compiled an overall record of 51-47. He led Lassiter to region championships in 2012 and 2013 and an appearance in the Class 5A semifinals in 2011.

Irwin said his goals as the school's athletic are to "increase participation in all of our programs, work with our district and school administrators to continue to upgrade and refurbish our facilities as we can to provide our athletes with the tools they need to thrive, also to support our coaches and make their jobs easier, engage the community and our alumni to increase support and coordination of our athletes, and increase student attendance at all of our sporting events."