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Cole takes over at Randolph Henry / June 24, 2013
Jay Cole begins a new chapter in his professional life this fall as the head coach of the Randolph-Henry High School varsity football program.

It’s his first head coaching post, and Cole is determined to change the culture at R-H, winless last season.

“That’s been my focus from day one, is changing that culture,” said Cole, who starts fall drills in Charlotte Courthouse on Aug. 1. Cole intends to build team chemistry and cohesion with a brotherhood theme running through the program.

“We function as best as possible as one,” said Cole. No more, “I did this”, instead, “We did that.” said Cole, a former Halifax County football player and assistant coach who also has collegiate playing experience.

He is also stressing positives for a program that has produced an NFL player - John McCargo, now out of the league due to injuries - but has struggled recently.

“We don’t stop moving long enough for anybody to hang their head, or anybody to thank about last year. Last year was last year,” said Cole, who replaces Joe Freeland as the head man at R-H.

Cole is the son of longtime WHLF radio station owner John Cole and his wife, Cathy.

The former Comet lineman sees the new opportunity in a positive light.

“It’s been a blessing,” said Cole, who has sought a head job for about the past five years. “I had some pretty good offers for coordinator jobs in other parts of the state that I turned down over the years, due to my family life.”

It all appears to be coming together for Cole at this point in his life. He plans to keep his residence in Halifax County to be close to his family. He and his wife, Jennifer, are expecting a child in August.

“I firmly believe ... everything we do happens for a reason. None of it’s accidental. To land your first head coaching job the same time you find out your wife’s pregnant, it’s supposed to happen that way,” said Cole, who has a son, John Cole V, from a previous marriage.

The new head coach at R-H has an established football resume.

Cole is a 1996 graduate of Halifax County High School. From there, he went to play football and graduate from Emory & Henry, where he played from 1996-2000. From there, he was an assistant football and baseball coach at Carroll County High School from 2001-2004. Cole returned to Halifax for the 2005 season where he was an assistant coach through 2009.

He spent the 2010 season working for GW-Danville.

Cole served as the wide receivers coach at Averett University in 2011, and took last season off.

Cole is undeterred about moving to take over the R-H football staff.

He said R-H’s small size lends itself to postive team chemistry. “They all know each other. They all hang out together,” said Cole.

He is very enthused about this opportunity. Cole believes he has had positive relationships with high school student-athletes he has coached over the years, and intends to keep that trend moving forward in Charlotte Courthouse.

Cole landed the head football job at Randolph-Henry in mid-March. He will also be teaching full time, although those duties have not been established. He said he either will have the weight room or will be a special education instructor.

“I’m extremely excited. I feel very fortunate that someone gave me a shot. I heard a whole lot of ‘no’s’, until I got this ‘yes’. That’s how the business goes,” said Cole.

Cole had been a finalist at William Campbell, but did not get that job.

Cole has been preparing for the new responsiblities. He has been conducting drills three days a week since March 18.

The Statesmen program went 0-10 a year ago, when R-H should have been 3-7, or perhaps 4-6.

The new coach points to one area of strength as he seeks to rebuild. Cole sees one significant piece of the base for a successful prep team already in place.

“A ton of great kids, a ton of skill kids that have had a really good off season,” said Cole. “99 percent of the skill kids played a spring sport. I couldn’t get my hands on them until school was out.”

R-H, part of the James River district, will be looking at a competitive football slate. “There are no cupcakes in that district at all ... you’re looking at Amelia, Bluestone, Buckingham, Central Lunenburg, Cumberland, Goochland, Nottoway, Prince Edward and us. I think Goochland is the front-runner in that district, year in and year out,” said Cole.

Cole has special motivation for the Nottoway game, as two former Comet coaches will line up. Grayson Throckmorton heads up the Nottoway program.

“Me and my old offensive line coach in high school (lining up),” said Cole.

Cole also has another positive in his view, as he hired away former Comet assistant Bo Palmore to be his defensive coordinator at R-H.

Cole has some material to work with, including one potential NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision signee, Joseph Reed. He is penciled in at slot receiver.

Reed is drawing interest from Virginia and Virginia Tech. Reed plans to attend a one-day camp at Virginia July 21. Reed was also invited to Florida State’s one-day camp, before the Seminole program realized Reed is a rising sophomore. Reed is 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, and appears to be a real prospect.

“We’re really athletic at the skill positions. Finding seven offensive linemen is going to be a struggle,” said Cole.

Cole cited several positive influences in his coaching career, including Fred Self, his offensive line coach in college. Cole cited three mentors for his coaching career, including former Comet head coach Stan Hodgin, now on the coaching staff at Shenandoah University; J.D. Shaw, now the offensive coordinator at Bridgewater, and former GW-Danville head coach Dan Newell.

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