He’s returning to his home county after 7 years with Red Tornadoes
By CHRIS HOBBS
KANNAPOLIS – Andy Poplin is leaving Hickory, returning to the county he grew up in to coach the varsity high school boys’ basketball team at A.L. Brown.
Poplin — whose head-coaching career includes stints at Cabarrus County’s Mount Pleasant and also at Concord, his alma mater – will return to coach at A.L. Brown in August.
He’ll replace Shelwyn Kluttz, a 300-game winner with the Wonders (21-8 last season), who is retiring.
Poplin, 49, told The Charlotte Observer: “I have been a Cabarrus County guy most of my life. So I am really excited. I really loved the (South Piedmont 3A) and there’s some great coaches in our conference and since I left, Cabarrus County basketball has continued to take off.”
Poplin, a Lenoir-Rhyne University graduate, began his coaching career in Catawba County as an assistant coach at College Park Middle School (1989-92). The next year, he was a varsity assistant at West Caldwell High.
His first head-coaching job was at Mount Pleasant, starting in 1994-95, and he was there nine seasons before going to Concord as head coach for four seasons.
Poplin’s unofficial career head-coaching record is 358-80.
In 2005-06, Concord fell to Greensboro Dudley in the state 3A title game. The next year, the Spiders beat Kinston to win a state 3A title.
Poplin resigned after the state title year, following a North Carolina High School Athletic Association ruling that Concord had violated two out-of-season workout rules.
He was hired as Hickory’s head coach prior to the 2013-14 season, replacing Lavell Hall after he’d spent one year as Red Tornadoes head coach.
Hall stepped in after Shawn Johnson spent eight seasons as HHS’ head coach.
Poplin’s first Hickory team went 13-12 overall, and he leaves HHS with a record of 158-40 that includes two league titles, three second-place finishes and one third-place finish.
Last season, HHS was 22-6 overall and second (9-3) in the Northwestern 3A-4A behind Freedom after falling 73-54 to Freedom in the third round of the state 3A playoffs.
Freedom also beat HHS last season in conference games in Morganton (by 12 points) and in Hickory (by seven points).
Poplin’s eventual replacement at HHS will be the ninth head coach of the Red Tornadoes since the late David Craft Sr. retired after the 1984-85 season.
Craft was followed by Gary Bowne (two years), Tom Bonebrake (two years), Hal Boliek (four years), John Worley (nine years), John Hamilton (one year), Johnson (eight years), Hall (one year) and Poplin.
The Red Tornadoes’ current streak of winning 20 or more games is at six years and in 12 of the previous 13 seasons.
Hickory has won 20 or more 23 times in 42 years with 33 winning years, one .500 season and eight losing seasons.