PELION, SC (WIS) - With the departure of longtime head coach Ben Freeman, Pelion was in the market for someone that could possibly make them a contender for a state championship.
Enter Dann Holland.
"I think a lot of people looked at Pelion as a Lexington One school with a great education," Holland said. "There's plenty of numbers there. We just felt like the opportunity arose and we interviewed for the job, got through the process and felt like this was a good move for our family."
The Charleston Southern alum, now Pelion's new athletics director and head football coach, made waves after winning back-to-back Class A state titles at Hunter-Kinard-Tyler in two of his three years with the Trojans. For Holland, the decision to leave the championship program he helped to build was a tough one.
"I met with the players this morning and that was an emotional time," Holland said. "We still have a very good football team coming back at H-K-T. Really thought if we stayed healthy and got some breaks along the way, I thought we could have a really successful year again.
"But you know, this is an opportunity that you can't turn down. You've got to look out for your family and I take my responsibilities as dad and a husband very seriously and Pelion has a ton of resources available and we thought this was the right move at the right time."
Holland finished 32-9 leading the Trojans during his tenure using a balanced hurry-up offense to light up the scoreboard. While that may have worked for him in Neeses, Holland isn't ready to say that scheme will be the staple of the Panthers' new offense.
"We'll try to be as similar as we can because we've had success and we think it works," Holland said. "Then again, I don't want to pigeonhole our kids in something that I want to do. We're going to see what we've got and we can do best to score points and stop people.
"But we want the same formula that everybody else has got. We want a sound running game, we want to be physical on defense, we want to stretch the field with the passing game, be solid on special teams, and have a chance to win games in the fourth quarter."
Holland comes from a program where numbers weren't always high when it came to filling the roster of his Class A program, but he won't have that issue in Pelion. Instead, the challenge he'll face is taking on a slightly tougher scale of competition in Class AA seeing the likes of Keenan, Fairfield Central and Newberry on the gridiron. Nevertheless, Holland welcomes the challenge.
"It's definitely an exciting challenge," Holland said. "When we took over at H-K-T, we talked about getting in that top three of Williston-Elko, Blackville-Hilda and Fox Creek and we were able to do that. I think that same formula is going to apply here at Pelion at least for one more year while the region still stays the same.
"We've got to get in that top three of Fairfield Central, Mid-Carolina, and the Keenans and the Newberrys. We've got to get up in there. When you get in there and you start mixing it up with those guys, things are going to definitely have changed for the better."