Bendig has many 'jobs' as head football coach of the PSHS Iron Horses

Eric Bendig’s official job title is head football coach.

But Bendig, who is building a new program at Philip Simmons High School, is more than a master of X’s and O’s. He’s part accountant, part equipment manager, part politician and part human relations specialist in charge of recruiting. And those are just some of his duties.

It takes a lot of energy and enthusiasm to build a new football program and it seems like school officials got the right man when they hired the 32-year-old Bendig, who played football at Wando High School and Presbyterian College.

He’s had stints as an assistant at Hanahan, Wando and Ashley Ridge. He was the offensive coordinator for the Swamp Foxes before being named the main man for PSHS Iron Horses.

“It’s amazing to start a new football program,” Bendig said. “It’s been a process, a long process. Hiring a coaching staff is a process in itself. It’s something new to me, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

Bendig has learned that football is more than just 48 minutes under the lights on a Friday night. He’s had to order more than $100,000 of weight room equipment and has to keep track of the minutia such as knowing how many knee pads to order while keeping in mind he’s spending the school’s and the Berkeley County School District’s money.

And then there’s the part politician and recruiting specialist.

He’s traveled to all the feeder-school programs to sell his product and himself. And, he’s had to recruit, recruit and recruit some more.

“I know when you talk about recruiting and high school football, it can be tricky,” Bendig said. “But that’s what I’ve had to do. I’ve had to get the word out.”

The team held its historic first practice on June 5, which is the beginning of the High School League’s open season. Teams can lift weights, participate in 7-on-7 camps and hit the sled. The only thing the Iron Horses and other teams can’t do is conduct contact drills.

The team is practicing at Cainhoy Elementary, and Bendig said the school has been a great host with excellent facilities. His office is currently at the Philip Simmons Middle School and if all goes right on the building schedule, he can move into his permanent office on July 28.

Philip Simmons High will compete as a junior varsity team this fall with a 10-game schedule. The roster will include freshman and sophomores. The team will compete at the varsity level in 2018. Bendig said the third year will be the watershed year because that will be the first season the team will have seniors on the roster. It will also be the year that the Iron Horses move up from Class AA to Class AAA.

The coaching staff greeted 40 players at the first practice and the number increased to 50 by the end of the week. Bendig expects the number to continue to grow to 60 or 70.

“What you have to remember is that everyone on the team has to rely on somebody else -- their parents, their brothers or sisters -- to get a ride to practice because they don’t have a driver’s license,” Bendig said.

And if a player ever needs a ride to practice, don’t be surprised if Bendig’s job duties grow to include transportation manager.

Daniel Island Publishing

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