TIGER — Jaybo Shaw got to live out a dream Friday.
The long-time Rabun County assistant coach was named the new Rabun County head football coach, taking over for his father, Lee Shaw, after spending the past four seasons as the team’s offensive coordinator.
The reigns of the football program were passed to Jaybo at a press conference at the Rabun County gym in front of his friends and family, fellow coaches, and current players.
“It has always been a dream of mine to take over for my father when he retired,” Jaybo said during an emotional statement. “Especially at Rabun County. This is just a special place because of the people.”
Lee Shaw made his sudden retirement announcement Friday morning saying that he was immediately stepping down from all duties at Rabun County, including his role as Athletic Director.
"I’ve had a great career coaching football. It’s been one heck of a ride,” Lee Shaw said in a text to media. "I now look forward to my son Jaybo taking over at Rabun and taking the program to another level. For me now, I’m going to take a deep breath and see what the next journey will be in my life."
Lee Shaw turned the Wildcats into one of the state’s most consistent winners and powerhouses in his seven years at his alma mater. Shaw led the Wildcats to a 70-17 record, the second most wins in school history. His .804 winning percentage is the best in program history. He also led the Wildcats to five consecutive Region 8-2A titles and to the program's only state championship game appearance in 2017, a 35-23 loss to Hapeville Charter.
Rabun County Principal Jonathan Gibson said there was never a doubt of who they wanted to lead the Wildcats into the future.
“I told Jaybo that when the time ever came, and as long as I was still the principal, he was going to be the next head coach here,” Gibson said. “It’s certainly bittersweet with Lee stepping down but we feel we have the perfect guy to lead us into the future. We have the greatest staff in the state and we didn’t want to mess up our coaching staff.
“As far as the AD position, myself and Jaybo will handle those responsibilities together the rest of the school year until we look at things in the spring and summer. We should be fine until then.”
Assistant coach and defensive coordinator Rob Stockton summed up his assessment of the coaching changes.
“Leaders are what make teams and organizations great and we’ve had great leadership here,” Stockton said. “Jaybo will continue in that tradition. I believe the sky is the limit for Jaybo and the program. He’s going to take what has been built and make it better. There’s no one better than him to take on this challenge.”
Jaybo, just 29, was the genius behind an ultra-powerful offense the past four seasons. The Wildcats led all of Class 2A the past two seasons in offense and scoring. With his promotion does that mean change is coming?
“I really see us doing the same things we’ve been doing,” Jaybo said. “But obviously I’m going to have to think on that (about a new offensive coordinator). We’re not a program at ground zero so there’s really no need to set out to change a lot of things.
“I have some ideas on how to continue to grow the program. But this is still kind of new to me right now so we’ll look at all that down the road.”
One of the final questions was whether he and his father had discussed whether this day was coming sooner rather than later.
“Me and my dad had talked about this day,” Jaybo said. “He is my best friend, really. I’m excited about this opportunity but it’s also real hard for me to see him step down. I just know I wouldn’t be in this position if wasn’t for him.”