FITZGERALD -- "It has been a gut-wrenching decision."

That is how Robby Pruitt described his decision to leave his post as head football coach at Fitzgerald High School to take the same position at Warner Robins High.

Pruitt was officially announced as the new coach at Warner Robins Tuesday afternoon. Besides becoming the leader of the football team, Pruitt also accepted the school's athletic director position.

Pruitt has compiled a 199-36-1 overall record in his 19 years as a head coach. However, Pruitt talked like the past three years in Fitzgerald have been among his favorite times as a coach.

"For all practical purposes, Fitzgerald is now my home. I am going to be leaving a lot of great friends here," said Pruitt.

"I really wish I could have gotten win number 200 here. But, we did win over 30 games here and I am happy for the success we were able to enjoy."

Even though Pruitt is saddened about leaving Fitzgerald, he is looking forward to the challenge at Warner Robins.

The Demons, a member of Region 2-AAAAA, went 8-4 last year under coach Richard Fendley, who resigned from the post in January.

After the resignation, the school began contacting Pruitt.

"They began to feel around to see if I had an interest in coming up there," Pruitt stated.

That concluded Tuesday with the Warner Robins School Board approving the hiring of Pruitt.

"I am looking forward to going up there. They have been down for the past few years, so it will be another opportunity to bring a program up," the coach stated.

Even though the program may have down the past few years, Pruitt said he has long admired the tradition with the Warner Robins Demons, a school that has won two national titles.

"Behind Valdosta, Warner Robins is probably the premier program in the state. I hope we can continue that tradition," Pruitt said.

The coach continued, "I am also looking forward to the new competition. It will be fun going against schools like Westside (Macon), Northside (Warner Robins) and Houston County. I will really enjoy learning more about those schools."

The new Demons coach said he will move to Warner Robins, "in about a week-and-a-half."

"I will want to introduce myself to the team and I also will want to begin working on my staff," Pruitt said.

While he would not go into detail, Pruitt indicated his Warner Robins assistants will include members of his Fitzgerald staff.

"We want to have everything in place by spring practice. We have scheduled that for May," said Pruitt.

At least one member of his Warner Robins squad will be a familiar face as Pruitt's son Tucker will contend for the starting quarterback position.

The younger Pruitt has been the starting quarterback for the Hurricanes the past two seasons. He will be a senior during the 2003 campaign.

"Tucker is having a lot of difficult emotions right now. He loves it here in Fitzgerald too," said Pruitt.

"I will not leave here with any bad memories. Everything here has been very positive for me and my family. Fitzgerald is a great place."

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