Mikel Gragg, pictured here addressing the Tigers after a district-opening win over Knox County, announced this week he will be leaving the program to take the head coaching position at California, MO.

There is no place like home, so for Scotland County Coach Mikel Gragg, an opportunity to get much closer to his roots ended up being too good of an opportunity to pass up. After posting the first seven win season at Scotland County in nearly 20 years, Gragg announced this week that he will be leaving the school district to take the head coaching position at California, MO.

The trip from Memphis to his hometown of Nevada took him about six hours. The opportunity to trim the travel time down by more than half and to be able to visit family and friends more than just one or twice a year ended up sealing the deal for Gragg.

“This was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make,” said Gragg. “I’m really excited about the opportunity and being closer to home, but at the same time I really enjoyed my time at Scotland County.”

The feeling was mutual. Gragg turned around a program that had gone 9-20 the previous three season, including 2-8 in 2014.

In his first season, Gragg’s Tigers finished 6-5 and lost a shootout versus Paris in the district semifinals. In 2016, SCR-I went 7-5 before losing in the district semifinals to South Shelby.

Despite graduating a number of key players, Gragg said the Tigers show a lot of promise, making his decision that much more difficult.

“Yes, we graduate some key players, but so does everyone else,” said Gragg. “We bring back (Will) Fromm who has experience at quarterback, as well as the bulk of the offensive and defensive lines, so there is a lot to work with there. I was fully expecting another winning season.”

The coach will be entering a rebuilding process once again as he heads to California, where the Pintos went 2-8 last year. The Class 2 school is a member of the Tri-County Conference.

Scotland County is hoping to send Gragg off in style, with another run in the state baseball playoffs. He will conclude his tenure at SCR-I with his second season at the helm of the Tigers.

“Yeah the kids are already talking about how they’d love to make me have to stay a little longer by making a run in the baseball playoffs,” said Gragg.