Sam Holland

THOMASVILLE — Thomas County Central has a new leader in charge of its athletic department. Sam Holland, the school's athletic director (AD) since 2015, has taken the head football coach and AD position at DeSoto County High School in Arcadia, Florida.

“God opened up a heck of a door for my wife and I both,” Holland said.

Coach Phillip Duplantis is Central's interim AD for the rest of the school year.

Prior to becoming the school's AD, Holland was the offensive coordinator for the football team under former head coach Bill Shaver. A chance to get back into the coaching fraternity was an opportunity Holland could not pass up.

“A really good friend of mine is the superintendent of schools here. He and I used to coach together when I was here in Florida before,” Holland said. “He called and offered the job. 

“It was something my wife and I prayed about. It was an opportunity that the good Lord opened up. Her family is about 35 miles from us. It was an opportunity to come in and rebuild a program and work for a good Christian man and do what I love doing and that's coach football.”

Holland inherits a program that finished 0-10 last season in Class 5-A. Before coming to Thomas County Central, he was head coach at Chiefland (Florida), going 54-37 in eight seasons. He was on the Chiefland staff when it won a football state title and he also coached at Daleville (Alabama).

Holland guided the Yellow Jackets sports program for the past six years. While there were challenges, none compared to the challenge of navigating Central athletics through the COVID-19 pandemic the past year. 

“To come out of the pandemic where every athletic program, both financially and athletically, are sound and strong, is a testament to the coaches and the community being willing to work,” Holland said. “We had to make some very difficult decisions as far as restrictions or guidelines in attendance. 

“Our fanbase was very cooperative. We did everything the right way to not only ensure that our athletes and coaches stayed safe, we were able to continue to compete. There were a lot of places that shut their athletic programs down. We were able to continue on because of the support of the community and the administration.”

Holland will never forget his time as a Yellow Jacket, which encompassed more than a decade of his professional career.

“What an unbelievable blessing. The place opened up and made my family feel at home from day one,” he said. “My youngest daughter graduated from there. My wife taught at the middle school there for 13 years. My oldest daughter was a para-pro there. I was able to do some amazing things, both as a football coach and as athletic director. There's no way that I will be able to say thank you enough to the school system there at Thomas County.”

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