T.J. Rohrbaugh head shot

TJ Rohrbaugh

A familiar face will serve as Sherando High School’s next head football coach.

The school announced Tuesday that 2001 Sherando graduate and former longtime Warriors assistant coach TJ Rohrbaugh will take over that position following the departure of Jake Smith, who left after two seasons as the Warriors head coach to take the same position at Handley last month.

Rohrbaugh is in the midst of his first year of Millbrook’s head coordinator of student activities. In a phone interview on Tuesday night, he said the position of head football coach at his alma mater is the only one that could have prompted him to leave his job at Millbrook.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time [at Millbrook],” said Rohrbaugh, who was hired at Millbrook as an assistant CSA after 14 years as a teacher and coach at Sherando for the 2021-22 school year. “I love everybody at Millbrook that I’ve worked with. But I’ve had a strong desire to coach for the last two years. I’ve missed it. I’ve missed being a part of a team. I’ve missed being around the kids.”

Rohrbaugh will remain as Millbrook’s CSA until June 30. Rohrbaugh will begin work as head football coach and physical education teacher at Sherando on July 1. Rohrbaugh said he interviewed for the position within the last 10 days and was told he had the job this week.

“I’m stepping away on good terms,” Rohrbaugh said. “There’s nothing [negative] that happened at Millbrook. It’s just a once-in-a lifetime opportunity for me.”

The 40-year-old Rohrbaugh said the strong relationships he’s built over the years with Sherando’s administration, teachers and coaches played a big role in his desire to go back, as well as the surrounding community that he knows quite well. Rohrbaugh lives within the boundaries of the Sherando school district and has a 9-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son he says will be students someday at Sherando.

“I think being someone who lives here in the community, and knowing how much community support there is for the football program, that’s really why I’m excited for this opportunity and why I want to be the head football coach at Sherando,” Rohrbaugh said.

Current Sherando CSA Jason Barbe served as the Warriors’ head football coach in 1998 and 1999, when Rohrbaugh was a sophomore and junior. He’s been Sherando’s CSA ever since and has watched Rohrbaugh grow.

“We are beyond ecstatic to bring TJ back home to Sherando to serve as the school’s varsity football coach,” said Barbe in a news release. “I have known TJ for nearly 30 years and there is no one who can mirror his history of involvement with our program. He has been on the sideline as a player or coach for a total of 168 games with the vast majority of them being victories. He is as good a person as you will ever meet and will work hard every day for Sherando’s students, players and school community.”

Rohrbaugh was Sherando’s defensive coordinator from 2009-18. The Warriors only surrendered more than 20 points per game once during that time (2016). That stretch includes the 2013 run to the Class 4 state title game, a season in which the Warriors held seven of their 15 opponents under 10 points and allowed only 200.2 yards per game prior to losing to Dinwiddie in the final.

Rohrbaugh takes over a program that went 7-5 overall and 5-2 in the Class 4 Northwestern District in 2022. The Warriors won their most games since 2019 and won their first playoff game since 2018, beating Loudoun Valley 40-23 in the Region 4C quarterfinals and falling 49-28 to Loudoun County in the semifinals. Rohrbaugh said he’d like to retain as many of Sherando’s current assistant coaches as possible.

Rohrbaugh did not coach during the 2019 football season to focus on graduate school but returned as an assistant coach at Sherando during the 2020-21 COVID-shortened season. When former Sherando head coach Bill Hall resigned after 18 seasons as head coach in the spring of 2021, Rohrbaugh did not apply because of his focus on athletic administration.

At the time, Rohrbaugh didn’t realize how much he’d miss coaching football. He may pursue athletic administration again someday, but for now he’s focused on Sherando football.

“Our goal is always going to put the best product on the field that we can put out there,” Rohrbaugh said. “How I’m going to evaluate the team at the end of the season is by, ‘Did we reach our potential?’ It’s not just about the wins and losses, but I did I help these kids reach their full potential not only as athletes, but also as students, and also as people?’ I’m just trying to help instill in them the core values that’s going to help them be more successful in life, even when they’re done playing football at Sherando.”

— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at rniedzwiecki@winchesterstar.com

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