Ninety Six head coach Andre Woolcock looks on during practice ahead of his team’s playoff game against Saluda.

Ninety Six football coach Andre Woolcock will leave the program after the school year to take the head coaching position at Eastside High.

“I have nothing but good things to say about Ninety Six, it’s just that working in Greenville County provided a better opportunity for my family,” Woolcock said. “We always say faith, family, football. We have to put it into action. It’s tough to do. I hated telling my guys this morning that I wasn’t going to be returning for the football season. When I tell my guys I love them, I mean it. But it was just the best situation for my family.”

Ninety Six went 9-3 and finished second in Region 2-2A in 2019 behind an outstanding season from Index-Journal Player of the Year quarterback Kentavius Williams and running back Josh Booker. Ninety Six exited the Class 2A playoffs in the third round.

The team went 4-8 in 2017, Woolcock’s first year as a head coach.

“He came at a tough time and did a good job with our kids and in our community and with our student body,” Ninety Six athletic director John-Mark Scruggs said. “Today was a sad day for a lot of our kids. They’ve grown close to him and that’s a testament to the relationship he had with them. We just wish him all the luck and hope that he’s successful in the next stage of his life.”

Woolcock said he will help with spring practices at Ninety Six and finish out the school year before making the move to Eastside.

The task of making a new hire will be difficult late in the school year, Scruggs said.

“Obviously it’s late in the year and it’s unfortunate that it is,” Scruggs said. “We’ll manage it the best way we can and right now we’re looking taking applications for a couple weeks and we will see where we go from there. We’ll find the right person for our kids at Ninety Six and for our faculty.”

Eastside’s last coach, Dan Morgan, resigned after last season to become an assistant coach at Spring Valley.

Eastside, a Class 4A school, went 7-4 in 2018, with a 3-2 mark in its region. The Eagles lost to Daniel in the first round of the playoffs.

Woolcock previously served as an assistant at Eastside. He played and served as a graduate assistant at North Greenville.

In making the move, Woolcock said he will remember best the bond he had with players and his coaching staff.

“I will always have a special place in my heart for Ninety Six, South Carolina,” Woolcock said. “They gave me a chance when no one else would and I’m indebted to this place because they believed in me.”

Woolcock and his wife had a baby last May, and he said that bond with his coaches helped him learn plenty about being a good father.

“That’s what I’m going to remember the most, is Coach (Chad) Ellis having his son painting the field and Coach (Tripp) Henderson having his son on the sideline and things like that,” Woolcock said. “We’ve had some really good football memories but it’s the things outside of football that I’m going to remember the most.”

Contact sports writer Skylar Rolstad at 223-1813 or follow him on Twitter @SkyRolSports.