High School Sports

Independence High seeks stability with hiring of new football coach

Independence hopes its new head football coach will help return the Patriots to their old winning ways
Independence hopes its new head football coach will help return the Patriots to their old winning ways

Mike Natoli is the new football coach at Independence High.

Patriots athletics director Kelly Lewis confirmed the hire Wednesday. Natoli was previously a head coach for five years at Richlands High, a 3A school in eastern N.C., and at West Iredell in Statesville. His career record is 17-39.

Natoli’s teams have had one winning season. He was offensive coordinator last season at Statesville Christian, which averaged 44 points and won a private schools state championship. In 2008, Natoli was offensive coordinator at Newton-Conover, when the Red Devils averaged 41 points and won the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A state championship.

At Independence, he replaces Hal Brown, who coached the Patriots on an interim basis in 2016 after Scott Young was fired days before the start of the season. Independence - which reached eight straight N.C. state championship games from 2000-07 - finished 2-9, its fewest wins in a season since 1980.

Lewis said Natoli was chosen from more than 20 candidates and six finalists. Lewis said he hopes Natoli brings stability to a program that has had four head coaches since the start of the 2014 season.

He said Natoli will start Monday teaching math and will eventually move into weight training next fall, when the Patriots unveil a new weight room.

“It’s been hard,” Lewis said, “because our kids have had so much transition these last three years, and part of it was (Natoli) knew that and he knew what our situation was, and part of it was he was going to be somebody who was going to be stable.

“He’s got four young kids and he’s going to move into the community...someone who will stay local and buckle down and commit.”

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