Appling County football coach Tomberlin retires; won 270 games

Credit: Kimberly Smith /

Credit: Kimberly Smith /

Appling County coach Rick Tomberlin retired Thursday, ending a career that netted him 270 wins, three state titles and 10 region championships across 34 seasons and nine schools.

Coaching for his alma mater, Tomberlin led Appling County to a 9-2 record and Class 3A quarterfinal finish in 2020.

“This is the best job I’ve ever had probably, but I’m 63 years old and drive an hour and 40 minutes every day, and when the time changed, it felt like it had been dark three or four hours by the time I got home,” said Tomberlin, who added that he wanted to spend more time with grandchildren, who are ages 9, 8 and 5.

The chance to coach at Appling County in his hometown brought him out of retirement in 2018. He sat out the 2017 season over a health-related issue that cleared up. Tomberlin commuted for three seasons from Rincon near Savannah.

Tomberlin’s best success came as head coach from 1992 through 2005 at Washington County, where he won state titles in 1994, 1996 and 1997 with star players such as Robert Edwards, Terrence Edwards and Takeo Spikes.

Tomberlin coached four seasons at tradition-rich Valdosta but was fired after the 2009 season and a 7-4 finish. Tomberlin also coached at Calvary Day, Effingham County, Lowndes, Jonesboro, Jenkins and Treutlen.

“I’d like to hang around at Appling County and get 300 wins, but that’s time I don’t get with my grandchildren,” Tomberlin said. “I still feel like I’m at the top of my game, but it’s just the right time.”