CHULA, GA (WALB) - Erik Soliday's return at Americus-Sumter High School was productive, but brief. The head football coach alerted the school he will retire at the end of the academic year.
Three seasons into his 2nd stint in Americus, Soliday is now packing his bags for Chula to lead Tiftarea Academy. The Georgia Independent School Association program made the announcement Monday.
"We are excited about having someone with his credentials to be a Tiftarea Panther," Athletic Director Tim Hathcock said. "He once was a Panther. Now, he will remain a Panther."
Americus-Sumter is fresh off its first region championship (1-AAAA) since Americus High and Sumter County High merged in 2004. School officials will meet this week to discuss a plan of action for replacing Soliday.
Tiftarea went (13-18) in three seasons under Tully Payne before parting ways this offseason.
Soliday is expected to start leading the program in Chula in February.
Soliday said he'll soon be meeting his players and getting more familiar with his personnel.
Tiftarea Academy leaders said Soliday beat out more than 30 applicants for the job.
Soliday is a proven winner who will be entering his 30th season as a head coach this fall. This will be his first job in the GISA.
"It's been 30 years. So, I retired there, but I really wanted to continue coaching football," Soliday said. "So, this was a great opportunity and it allowed me to do that. I'm looking forward to not only being part of a great academic school, but, hopefully, we can turn this into a great football program as well."
He has 187 wins all-time, and is best known for leading Americus High to back-to-back Georgia High School Association football state championships in 2000 and 2001.
Three decades ago as Soliday was traveling from his home state of West Virginia to Florida, he made a pit stop in South Georgia for an interview at Turner County.
He took that job to lead the Rebels in 1989, and he's yet to leave the Peach State since.
Soliday spent 17 years at Turner County split into two stints (1989-1996, 2004-2012). His first stay in Americus spanned 5 seasons (1999-2003).
Henry County and Perry were his other two stops along the way.
For more on Soliday's coaching history, check out his appearance on 'Sports Talk With Theo Dorsey' which aired last October.