By CHRIS HOBBS
CATAWBA – Rob Bliss’ return to coaching prep basketball is official after his teaching contract was approved on Monday night by the Catawba County Board of Education.
As first reported by HobbsDailyReport.com on May 6 (https://hobbsdailyreport.com/bandys-high/breaking-news-bliss-will-be-next-varsity-boys-basketball-coach-at-bandys/), Bliss will teach history and be head boys’ varsity basketball coach at Bandys High.
He took over as principal at South Caldwell last October, accepting that position after he had earlier retired from the Catawba County Schools after five years as principal at Maiden.
To go back into classroom teaching, the CCS Board of Education needed to approve a contract for Bliss.
Coaching assignments are not part of the board of education’s approval process, as they are then made by a school’s principal.
This will be Bliss’ fifth head-coaching job in varsity boys’ basketball.
After working as a junior varsity head coach and on coaching staffs at West Caldwell and Freedom, he became head coach at Brevard, East Burke, West Henderson and Fred T. Foard.
His unofficial career coaching record is 288-171 with 16 of his 18 teams qualifying for the state playoffs (see graphic). He is a second generation coach, having played for his dad, Robert Sr., at East Burke his sophomore year and then two seasons for Rick Ogle.
Bliss replaces Matt Oaks as head coach at Bandys. Oaks was named interim head coach for last season, after Adam Dutka was not retained.
The Trojans went 8-17 last season, finishing in a tie for sixth place with Maiden (each 3-11 in the South Fork 2A.
Bandys did not make the state playoffs last year after having reached them in back-to-back seasons under Dutka.
After entering games in January at 5-5, Bandys lost six of its next seven games – including a home overtime loss to Newton-Conover and a two-point road loss to eventual league champion Lake Norman Charter – to fall to 1-6 in the South Fork 2A.
Bandys went 2-6 the rest of the way, winning at home against Maiden and at West Lincoln, but finished on a three-game losing streak that included a 50-point road loss to East Lincoln in the opening round of the conference tournament.
Bliss played basketball at UNC Asheville and Appalachian State (1989 graduate) and earned a master’s degree in education from Gardner-Webb in 2009.