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Johnson steps down from P-15's; Coker to take over

By DENNIS BRUNSON
dennis@theitem.com
Posted 2/14/20

Robby Coker, who coached the Sumter Junior P-15's to an American Legion baseball state title in 2018, will be the Senior P-15's new head coach after the resignation of Curtis Johnson.

Johnson, who was in his second stint as the P-15's head coach, …

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Johnson steps down from P-15's; Coker to take over

Posted

Robby Coker, who coached the Sumter Junior P-15's to an American Legion baseball state title in 2018, will be the Senior P-15's new head coach after the resignation of Curtis Johnson.

Johnson, who was in his second stint as the P-15's head coach, resigned the post a few days ago. After some contemplation, Coker decided to accept the position.

"I thought about and I prayed about it, and I decided to do it," said Coker. He then said with a laugh, "I thought I was retired."

Coker, a former pitcher for the P-15's and the University of South Carolina in the early 1980s, coached the Junior P-15's in 2017 and 2018. They made the state tournament both years, winning the title in '18 with a 23-3-1 record. Sumter was 41-10-1 in those two seasons.

Coker, whose son Wylie is on the team, said one reason he decided to take the job is getting the opportunity to impact the players.

"If I can make one difference in the lives of one of these kids, then it's worth it," he said.

Johnson, like Coker a former P-15's and USC pitcher, said it was just time for him to make a move.

"I just decided to move in a different direction with what I was doing in the summer," said Johnson, whose first stint as head coach was from 2012-14.. I'll get to be around my wife, my kids more. I just wanted to go in a different direction."

Johnson was 48-26 the past two seasons, guiding the P-15's to the 4-team state tournament each year. In 2018, Sumter finished second in the state and earned a berth in the Southeast Regional while going 24-15. Last season, Sumter was 24-11.

"We won a lot because we put in a lot of hard work and sweat.," said Johnson, whose 5-year record is 135-53. "It shows if you work hard you can be there at the end."

P-15's athletic director Billy Lyons said Johnson and the program parted on good terms.

"I had a meeting with him and he said, 'Here's my resignation. My heart's not in it so I'm going to resign.'

"There are no hard feelings. We're still friends."

Lyons expects Coker to carry on the P-15's winning tradition.

"I thought of Robby right away," Lyons said. "He coached the Junior team for two years and led them to a state championship. He's a good fit. He's a good coach and knows what he's doing."

As of now, Coker will be assisted by Chad Hoshour, another former P-15's and USC pitcher, and Tee Dubose, who is also a former P-15's player.