Harden, the head football coach who led the Bulldogs to a 15-6 mark the past two seasons, has taken the same job at Jenkins County.
“They’ve got a total commitment to winning and doing whatever it takes to bring the program back out of the slumps that it’s been in,” Harden said.
The coach said he was offered the Jenkins County job in November after Butler’s season ended against Sandy Creek, 55-12, in the first round of the Georgia High School Association’s Class AAA state playoffs. Since then, Harden said he went down to Jenkins County a couple times to check it out before he made his decision.
Harden, who accepted the job last Tuesday, said he wanted to take on another rebuilding job.
“I really made up my mind right before we came back to school,” he said. “It's kind of fun. It's a lot of work. It's really rewarding to go in and turn it around. It says a lot about you, your character and patience.”
Harden went 15-16 in his three seasons as Butler’s head coach, inheriting a program that hadn’t posted consecutive winning seasons since 1987-1989.
His first victory – a 42-0 win against Westside in the first game of the 2010 season – ended the team’s 41-game losing streak.
Butler opened 5-0 in each of the past two years, receiving a state playoff bid this season. It was the program’s first trip to the state postseason since 2003.
Jenkins County High School, located in Millen, Ga., went 1-9 this season and hasn’t posted a winning season since 1999. It’s a member of Class A in the GHSA.
At Butler, Harden won at least seven games in both of his final two seasons; Jenkins County hasn’t won more than six in a year since 1966.
Faced with another rebuilding job, Harden leaves behind what he described as the best teachers he’s seen when it comes to supporting students.
“It’s hard to leave something like that,” he said. “We love Augusta.”