It’s the eternal question for high school football programs when the time comes for a coaching change: Do you build from within, or reach outside the school to take your team in a different direction?
For both Terry Sanford and Jack Britt, the decision was to hire someone with a link to the program.
Terry Sanford picked Bruce McClelland, a 1988 Terry Sanford grad currently in his second stint as an assistant coach on the school’s staff.
Britt also turned to an assistant, a man who was with the school a few years ago but will leave E.E. Smith to return to the Buccaneers, Brian Randolph. Randolph is a Douglas Byrd graduate and played for its legendary coach Bob Paroli during his years there.
McClelland has an obvious advantage already being in the building at Terry Sanford and serving as offensive coordinator under former head coach Bryan Till, now at Richmond Senior.
Routines are important for high school coaches, so McClelland said you don’t need to expect many changes for now. “We’ll have the whole staff but Coach Till,’’ McClelland said. “We’ll keep things familiar so we can add to it rather than reintroduce things.’’
As offensive coordinator last year, and with quarterback Christian Jayne returning, the Bulldogs will figure to be one of the area’s most prolific passing teams. Defensively, McClelland plans to stress bringing the pressure to the opponent.
One of the biggest concerns will be replacing Till’s leadership in the weight room to keep the Bulldog strength training program on track.
When the spring conditioning period begins in a few weeks, McClelland said his focus will be on developing linemen. “We want to see how much we’ve progressed from last year and put in the basics of our system to see how the kids react to that,’’ he said.
Randolph is only the third football coach Britt has had since opening in 2000. He worked with both his predecessors, Richard Bailey and Brian Rimpf, and is excited for the great opportunity he has to build on the legacy at Jack Britt.
His biggest concern is how soon he’ll be able to start work at Britt. He teaches a critical math course at E.E. Smith, so finding a way for him to transition to Britt before school’s end this year won’t be easy.
When spring conditioning begins, he wants to focus on getting students who haven’t been playing football out for the team. “I want to let them know it’s a clean slate and we’re starting from fresh,’’ he said. “We want as many numbers as we can within the parameters of what we can do.’’
Randolph wants to run a no-huddle, up-tempo offense. He’s not set on defense, except that he wants his team to be sound fundamentally. “There are no easy weeks,’’ he said. “The schedule is tough. No days off.’’ Britt will move into the Sandhills Athletic Conference and face traditional powers Richmond Senior and Scotland as well as some of the top teams from Cumberland County.
He plans to borrow a lesson learned from his old high school coach, Paroli, and try to field a team that is mentally tough. “He loved to make practice harder than the game,’’ Randolph said of Paroli. “If you make practice hard, the game is easy.
“We’re going to have fun. At the end of the day, winning games is more fun.’’