At the age of 30, Josh Stepp already has what he’s called his “dream job” as head football coach and athletic director at Lexington High School.

When former head coach Scott Earley left in March to pursue other coaching endeavors, the position was eventually offered to Stepp. As a Pelion graduate, Stepp – who had led Class AAA Dreher to a turnaround from 0-10 to 8-2 in his three seasons there – was glad to take the helm at a traditional Class AAAA power so close to home. He definitely never thought it would happen this quickly for him, though.

“I didn’t think so,” he said. “I’ve just been tremendously blessed to have this job.”

And the Wildcats have shared in the blessing.

After a rare down year in 2012 that saw Lexington go 3-8 and 1-4 in Region 5-AAAA play, Stepp has the Wildcats at 5-1, with wins over Blythewood and Irmo coming into region play. Their only loss was to Class AAAA’s No. 5 team, Spring Valley. He credits the players and coaches, including assistants like defensive coordinator Bobby McGlohorn that he brought with him, for making the transition so seamless and successful so far.

“I had the chance to coach under some great coaches and with great coaches and, most importantly, coach great kids,” he said. “They really bought into the way we wanted to do things as a program.”

The Wildcats’ hot start will be put to the test over the next few weeks, though. In addition to tonight’s foe, Class AAAA No. 4 North Augusta, Stepp’s squad will face Dutch Fork and White Knoll – Class AAAA, Division I semifinalists a season ago – in addition to South Aiken and Aiken.

Stepp, who played college ball at Furman and Newberry, said the intensity of that slate is something he’s been anticipating since he took the job.

“From a region standpoint, what I’m looking forward to is the competition every single Friday,” he said.

Starting with undefeated North Augusta is no way to ease into his first region play at the South Carolina High School League’s highest level, either.

“Man, what a challenge,” he said. “What a great way to start with one of the top teams in the state and one of my friends in Dan Pippin.”

No matter how his first Region 5-AAAA season goes, Stepp is fully prepared to put down roots at Lexington. With children at the ages of 6 years old and 5 months old, he’s comfortable with the environment and school situation in his home county.

“Hopefully, this is the last stop for me,” he said.

Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism job from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.