The desire to spend more time with his family led Darren Reed to make the decision to step down as Abingdon High School’s head football coach.
Reed tendered his resignation July 19, ending his four-year run leading the Falcons. Reed will return to Gate City — his alma mater — and serve as an assistant coach on the staff of Chris Akers.
“It was a personal thing,” Reed said Friday afternoon in a telephone interview. “I’m getting older, and I don’t want to give up football; I’m still pretty driven, but I also don’t want to short-change my family.”
Virginia High School League practice officially begins July 26, and Abingdon is currently without a coach.
“We are working as quickly as possible to fill the position so that our football program can move forward with preparation for this season,” said Abingdon principal B.J. Lasley.
Reed went 34-12 during his four seasons at AHS and made the playoffs each year. In 2015, the Falcons went 11-2 and reached the VHSL 3A state.
Abingdon had endured three straight losing seasons and hadn’t managed a postseason win since 1996 when Reed arrived.
He said he harbored no ill will toward those at Abingdon upon his exit.
“I absolutely loved it,” Reed said. “I can’t say enough about my administration — [former principal] Mr. [Jimmy] King and [ex-athletic director] Mr. [Gabe] Long — and the backing of the school board, Dr. [Doug] Arnold and [superintendent] Dr. [Brian] Ratliff.
“You also can’t say enough about the kids. The kids bought into us as coaches, and that’s all you can ask for. They trusted the staff and what we were telling them and teaching them. It feels great to be mentioned with the Unions and the Richlands, and our record was right there with ’em.”
Reed went 4-16 in two seasons as the head coach at Wise County Central before being hired at Abingdon.
“When I went to Abingdon and as a head coach, you want to test yourself and see how you do against those 3A schools near Roanoke, Charlottesville and Harrisonburg,” Reed said. “We held our own. And again, I can’t say enough about the kids. Sometimes a school has an identity of being a certain way, but the kids at Abingdon had a phenomenal work ethic, they were coachable and they were teachable. They did everything we wanted from them.”
Reed is back at Gate City, where he was a star player and served as an assistant coach for more than a decade.
He commuted from Scott County to Abingdon each day during his time guiding the Falcons.
Gate City went just 1-9 last season and had an opening on the coaching staff when defensive coordinator Tim Burke left to take the same job at Rural Retreat.
“It was kind of the perfect storm,” Reed said. “I didn’t want to give up football, I’ve still got that drive that I’ve had for the long time, and they had an opening. It will take some of the head-coaching time constraints away to free me up to be able to coach and spend quality time with my family.
“I just want to do anything I can to help the program at Gate City. As alumni, we know what it feels like to be a Gate City Blue Devil, and we want them to feel the same way we feel. I’m not a miracle pill or anything, but I just want to help out the kids and staff and help build the program back up. Southwest Virginia’s not the same without Gate City being at the top.”