WARNER ROBINS — Conrad Nix said he doesn’t feel old.
But when he looks in the mirror, he said he sees an “old man.”
The 64-year-old announced Tuesday afternoon he would step down as the head football coach at Northside High School following the end of the school year, citing age and a desire to spend time with family as some of the factors in the decision. He coached at Northside for 24 years spanning two different coaching stops with the Eagles.
“It’s just time,” said Nix, who led Northside to the Georgia High School Association Class AAAAA state championship game in December. “My wife (Patsy) has been retired for a while, and she has been asking me for a while to retire while we both could still do things and had our health. But for whatever reason, it wasn’t time.
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“When I started praying about it, the pros and cons of it, the positives and negatives of it, the positives of retired just outnumbered it so much.”
Nix, who knew he wanted to be a football coach as a junior in high school, walks away less than a month after he earned his 300th career victory in a state semifinal win over Newnan. The Eagles lost to Camden County in the state championship game at the Georgia Dome. It became the final moment in Nix’s long tenure at Northside.
“It is with mixed emotions that I offer my heartfelt congratulations to coach Nix,” Northside principal Mark Scott said in a statement. “Words can’t explain what he means to all of us here at Northside High School. Coach Nix will always be a part of the Northside family, and he will certainly be missed.”
After taking over as the head coach in 1973, Nix led the Eagles to two 10-win seasons before leaving in 1980 to take a job at Haleyville High School in Alabama.
Nix coached at three other schools after leaving Haleyville before eventually returning to Northside in 1994.
It was the second stint in Warner Robins that cinched Nix’s legacy as one of the top coaches in Middle Georgia history.
The Eagles won 10 games that first year, but they really hit their stride in 1998 with a 12-win season. They have never won fewer than 10 games in the 12 years since. Nix was the only coach in the state to win 10 games every year of the past decade.
“You look at any level, and that’s an amazing feat,” Peach County head coach Chad Campbell said. “Very few people ever win like that, and that’s a testament to Coach Nix and his staff and the players. He’s one of the legendary coaches in state history. It’s hard to imagine him not coaching.”
Northside’s greatest moment came in 2006, when Nix led the Eagles to an undefeated season and the first state championship in school history when they beat Marist 30-6 at McConnell-Talbert Stadium. The championship came only after heartbreaking losses to Parkview and Statesboro in the 2001 and 2005 title games, respectively. The Eagles had been close in other seasons, too, finishing the 1998, 1999 and 2003 regular seasons undefeated. But the Marist game was the breakthrough win that Nix had been working toward.
“Coach Nix did a wonderful job at Northside, coaching football and leading men,” said Twiggs County head coach Dexter Copeland, who played for Nix at Northside. “I think everyone was thrilled when he won that championship. He brought a lot of notoriety to the program and to Warner Robins. We pattern our program after Northside.”
Nix followed that up with another undefeated season in 2007, beating Ware County 20-14 on the road for the state championship. That season was particularly trying as the Eagles lost all-state quarterback Marques Ivory to a broken leg in the eighth game of the season. But Nix inserted an unproven backup into the lineup, and the Eagles continued to win until Ivory returned in the second half of the state semifinals.
The Eagles won a school-record 35 games between the 2006-08 seasons, going almost three full calendar years between losses.
Northside played in five state championship games during the past nine years. The Eagles went 53-4 during the past four seasons. Nix never had a losing season in 24 years at Northside.
Nix said he won’t stray far from the program, and he anticipated going to games next season. He said he was likely to return to playing golf and going fishing with his wife.
“By nature, I’m not a guy that’s going to sit around the house,” Nix said. “Just looking forward to what the future holds.”