JOHNSTON — The Edgefield County School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved Strom Thurmond High School’s recommendation for the next head coach of the football team. However, the anticipation of the unveiling of the Rebels new leader will spill over into today, as athletic director Doug Painter and Principal Jill Jett said the announcement will be made at a press conference today at 11 a.m.

The board went into an executive session with Painter before returning for the vote to approve the administration’s choice.

“The most important thing to us is the kids, and they’re going to find out first,” Jett said. “They deserve to be the first to know.”

Whoever takes over will fill the vacancy left when venerable head coach Lee Sawyer, who led the team to enormous success in the 10 seasons he coached the Rebels. Sawyer resigned on March 18.

He led the team to region titles in nine of his 10 seasons, including the team’s current streak of five straight. In his 10 years at Strom Thurmond, Sawyer compiled a record of 107-24.

Painter and Jett said Sawyer didn’t play any part in the search for his replacement. The two and two other outside members with respected opinions were involved in the process to find the new head coach.

At the time of his retirement, Sawyer said he had hoped his replacement would be one of the assistant coaches he worked with over the past few years.

The announcement will come just in time for the start of spring practice. Whoever takes over will lead the Rebels in their transition to Class AA next season. The realignment puts Strom Thurmond in the region with Abbeville, Crescent, Ninety Six, Saluda and defending Class AA Division II champion Batesburg-Leesville.

“We took our time and did our interviews before we made the decision,” Painter said, when questioned about whether or not the school went with an in-house candidate. “We were pretty thorough and found a good candidate.”

Eric Russell covers sports for the Aiken Standard. He graduated from USC Aiken with a degree in communications.