West Charlotte High interim football coach Josh Harris said he has just one goal as he takes over the struggling Lions.
“We’re 0-5,” he said Wednesday night after practice, “and it’s been a rough five weeks, so right now the mindset of the coaches is just to be there for the kids. We want to make these last six weeks better than the first five.”
Harris, 31, was promoted to the head coaching position Tuesday after Daren Hart resigned, citing lack of support. Harris graduated from Hopewell in 2003 and played at Gardner-Webb for two years before transferring and graduating from N.C. A&T. He started coaching in 2010, winning two private school state championships as defensive back coach at Concord First Assembly under former Carolina Panthers star Mike Minter. Harris also coached cornerbacks for two seasons at J.C. Smith.
This is his third year at West Charlotte and his second season as a coach. He was previously a varsity assistant and the head junior varsity coach. He takes over a team that has had seven coaches in nine seasons and one that hasn’t had a winning season since 2010.
“What happened this week pretty much caught everyone off guard,” Harris said about the coaching changes. “But not too much went through my head. I’ve been around this game long enough. It’s a revolving door sometimes, and when they told me I was going to be the guy moving forward, I’m like, ‘OK, we’re here for the kids, we’ve got a great coaching staff,’ and I’m thankful the administration saw enough in me to give me the honor to coach them the rest of the season.”
The Lions will play at three-time 4AA state champion Mallard Creek Friday, and the Mavericks probably won’t be happy after being upset by Rock Hill South Pointe last week in a flurry of turnovers (five) and penalites (163 yards worth).
“Mallard Creek’s tough,” Harris said, “but I think we play in the toughest conference in the state (the MECKA). All I know is this has been the best week of practice we’ve had. The vibe and mood is good. Kids are flying around the ball and the coaches are having fun. It feels like a big family.”
▪ Alexander Central rushed for an N.C. record 801 yards last week in a 82-42 win over Ashe County. The Cougars (4-0), who have scored 157 points the past two weeks, average 64 points. They will play at rival South Iredell (3-1) Friday.
▪ Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s brother Caylin (6-foot, 185 pounds) has led his Atlanta Grady High team to a 3-1 record. He’s thrown for 1,153 yards, 11 touchdowns and rushed for 326 yards and four scores. He’s fourth in Georgia in passing yards and has scholarship offers from Hampton, Kentucky Christian and Savannah State.
Wertz: 704-358-5133; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr