West Charlotte High football coach Daren Hart told the Observer he was resigning immediately Tuesday.
Hart, 42, coached the Lions for 1 1/2 seasons and had a 2-14 record. This season’s team is 0-5 and plays at reigning three-time 4AA state champion Mallard Creek (3-1) Friday.
“I felt a lack of support from my staff,” said Hart, who is a health and physical education teacher at the school. “It’s going to take some time for whomever comes into West Charlotte to change the mindset of the kids. You’ve got a lot of obstacles and hurdles to cross to get back to winning.”
West Charlotte hasn’t had a winning season or much coaching stability since 2010. From 1972-1999, the Lions had three head coaches: Rudy Abrams, Bruce Hardin and Tom Knotts. They produced 21 winning seasons, six N.C. 4A state championship game appearances and a 1995 state title.
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Mike Helms coached in 2000, followed by Pete Gilchrist, who coached from 2001-2006 and reached an N.C. 4A championship game. Since Gilchrist left, the Lions have had two winning seasons and seven coaches. West Charlotte athletics director Titus Ivory said junior varsity coach Josh Harris will finish the season as interim coach.
West Charlotte principal Timisha Barnes-Jones said she was surprised by Hart’s decision.
“I had a very good relationship with coach Hart and had been very supportive of coach Hart over the past couple of years,” she said. “This was a personal decision. I have much respect for coach Hart and what he’s done supporting our students.”
Barnes-Jones said West Charlotte will evaluate the remainder of the season under Harris and whether to make another hire for the 2017 season and beyond.
Hart said he was exhausted from doing so much himself, which included coordinating weight room and film sessions, driving the bus to away games and taking students on college visits.
“I was trying to get the kids to where they enjoyed playing and trying to inspire them to go to college,” Hart said. “I’m just hoping they can dream and that will change their mindset coming back to West Charlotte. Man, I was about those kids.”