Long before anyone would Google “Chanticleers,” as in the 2016 College World Series champion Coastal Carolina University Chanticleers, Wayne County head football coach Ken Cribb could have told them.
He not only knew what a Chanticleer was, he was an original member of the Coastal Carolina College club football team. Cribb also has a direct tie to a piece of that hardware from Omaha: His high school baseball coach was Gary Gilmore. Gilmore skippered the Chanticleers to the CWS title in 2016.
Graduating from Pleasant Hill High School in Georgetown, South Carolina, Cribb grew up loving sports and knew it would be the right career for him.
“My love for sports led me to want to become a coach,” Cribb said. “My parents both coached recreationally. My high school head football coach sarcastically called me ‘Coach Cribb’ when I was a freshman.”
Over a 29-year career, Cribb has covered the Upstate and Low Country of South Carolina. Up and down I-95, Cribb helped the programs he was with, making them competitive and raising the level of play.
His last stop in South Carolina was Bluffton, right across the Savannah River and about 10 golf courses from Hilton Head Island. Cribb put together double-digit wins three years in a row; during the 2011 season, he won 14 straight games with the Bobcats with the only loss coming in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.
While at the helm of the Bobcats, Cribb had an opportunity to jump the border to play some Georgia schools, mainly physical power running-team Effingham County and the skill rich South Effingham Mustangs.
“I have been familiar with Georgia high school football for the last seven years due to being in Bluffton and bordering the state line while competing against several Georgia schools,” Cribb said. “The biggest difference in my opinion is the level of competitiveness throughout the different classifications.”
Bluffton became known for a fast attacking, pass-happy offense and a stingy, punishing defense. Those same elements are the foundation that kept Wayne County undefeated coming into the midpoint of the 2017 season.
When the Yellow Jackets met the other Yellow Jackets of Thomas County Central, the Aug. 12 scrimmage loudly proclaimed that the Palmetto State was in full effect in South Georgia. After leading 35-7, Wayne County staved off a hastily put together rally by TCC and won 47-21, gaining over 500 yards of offense in the process.
Wayne won their first game of the season on the road against West Laurens, but Cribb knew what faced Wayne County in Game 2. The Yellow Jackets had to make a long trip to Valdosta.
Not only were the 2016 AAAAAA state champ Wildcats waiting on them, but Hurricane Irma was starting to move into the Caribbean Islands.
“My first time experience playing in Valdosta and admiring their stadium, football museum, and adornment of championship banners was quite impressive,” Cribb said. “It was a great atmosphere and a monster win for our program over a quality opponent.”
Following the victory on the road against Valdosta, Wayne was dealt its next major challenge, an upstart Brunswick team that has been a scoring machine since Sean Pender took over last spring. But as the great Jimmy Buffett laments in his song, “Trying to Reason With Hurricane Season,” debris and post-Irma conditions forced Brunswick to forfeit the game to Wayne. Hurricanes and lightening are about the only thing that will stop high school football.
When Wayne County did reemerge on the field after Irma, they brought their own barrage, defeating Appling County 49-14.
Wayne County fits Cribb like a glove, and he reciprocates all of the cordiality and kindness the Yellow Jacket nation have shown him.
“The administration has been 100-percent supportive, and the whole town is hungry for success,” he said. “My career-long dream was to coach in a community that loved football half as much as I do.”
The administration gave Cribb the ability to build the staff that would best work for him and maximize the coaching players would receive. When you look at the Wayne County staff, you see not only a wealth of technical football knowledge, but life experiences that players can glean.
A lot of his assistants have played and coached college football, from Division I to NAIA power Northwest Oklahoma State. The staff is so diverse and versatile that they have assistants that worked alongside legendary Summerville coach John McKissick and at Byrnes High School, a nationally ranked prep South Carolina program. Ten of Cribb’s past assistants are now head coaches.
“I have always had great staffs, but thanks to the support of the Wayne County administration, I have assembled an all-star staff,” Cribb said. “No doubt, best staff of my career.”
Though he is the head football coach, he also is the athletic director and tries to do everything he can to make sure all sports have what they need to be successful.
When Cribb does find some time away from the field, he likes to get in some golf and grill on the Lang smoker he won at his first In the Game Media Day in July. Cribb kept putting the bags in the cornhole board like Larry Bird shooting three pointers.
“I can’t tell you how awesome it was to be lucky enough to have won the cornhole tournament and the Lang Grill at the Media Day,” Cribb said. “I have smoked a Boston butt and chicken on it so far, crazy good.”
By W. John Wood
The Palmetto State Effect