Why Jeb Stewart is stepping down as the football coach at Windsor Forest

SAVANNAH — Football has been a foundation of Jeb Stewart's life since he first took the field as a youngster, later playing high school ball for his father, Jimmy Stewart, at Macon County and Southeast Macon.

He followed in his father's footsteps — shaping young lives through the sport as a coach in a career that spanned 34 seasons.

This week, Stewart made the difficult choice to step down as the head coach at Windsor Forest, where he has led the Knights for the last four seasons.

Stewart is a real estate agent, along with his wife, and is also a broker and a mortgage loan officer

"It was a tough decision to make when you've been involved with football for your whole life, and it was hard to tell the kids when we met on Thursday," said Stewart, 52. "But I've almost got my 30 years in and I'm getting ready to retire from teaching and my wife and I have a real estate business that I need to spend more time with. I would have been being pulled in two different directions, so I thought it was the right decision to make for myself, and for the program."

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Windsor Forest head coach Jeb Stewart watches as linemen practice at a 2021 workout.
Windsor Forest head coach Jeb Stewart watches as linemen practice at a 2021 workout.

Stewart has called Savannah home for a while and served as an assistant coach at Jenkins, where he was an offensive coordinator during the Warriors memorable run from 2016 to 2018, where they reached the state quarterfinals two years in a row, before a trip to the Class 3A state semis in 2018. He took over the Windsor Forest program in 2020 and led the Knights to playoff appearances in his first two seasons at the helm.

The Knights moved to Region 3-2A for the last two years, a rugged region that Stewart said was like the SEC of the Georgia High School Association, and struggled with three wins. Stewart posted a record of 14-24 in his tenure with the Knights.

"It was hard telling the players — I've had a great experience here at Windsor Forest," Stewart said. "We've had some great kids that I've been able to coach and see them grow up. There have been ups and downs, and it was really hard when we lost Keshaun Allen last year (when the sophomore died on the sideline of a junior varsity game). The relationships you make as a coach are the most important thing."

Windsor Forest coach Jeb Stewart talks to the officials during a 2021 game at Memorial Stadium.
Windsor Forest coach Jeb Stewart talks to the officials during a 2021 game at Memorial Stadium.

One of the Knights biggest stars under Stewart was running back Mike Cabellero, a running back and three-sport standout who became the first Windsor Forest athlete to win the Ashley Dearing Award as Savannah's most versatile high school athlete in 2022. He's now playing junior college football at Central Georgia Technical College in Macon.

"Playing for Coach Stewart was an amazing experience," Cabellero said. "He helped me get better physically and made me a smarter player and a leader. He made me look at football in a different way. He was a great father figure for everyone on the team. He made sure we took care of business off the field. He was all about going to class and getting good grades. And the door to his office was always open — you could go in and talk to him about anything, and he always had your best interest at heart. It's going to be hard to replace Coach Stewart."

Dennis Knight covers sports for the Savannah Morning News. Contact him at Twitter: @DennisKnightSMN

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Jeb Stewart retires as football coach at Windsor Forest