Spending time with mom and dad,
playing golf and grilling out top list
By CHRIS HOBBS
HUDSON — Marc Kirkpatrick hopes he’ll handle the decision he made last Thursday — to no longer be South Caldwell High’s head football coach — very well when the next season rolls around.
“I guess I’ll play golf and try to get better,” Kirkpatrick said. “But my wife is concerned I might drive her crazy during football season.”
Kirkpatrick, who turns 56 in late October, has been head football coach at his alma mater for the past four seasons. The Spartans won only 11 games in that span but reached the postseason three times.
In a COVID-shortened spring season, South Caldwell went 3-1 in the Northwestern 3A-4A and 3-3 overall and lost 42-26 to Durham Hillside in the opening round of the state 4A playoffs.
Kirkpatrick said he loved practices this season and toughed out a year in which the pandemic had the Spartans just practicing for two weeks before playing Statesville. Later in the season, they sat another 14 days between games when Freedom was under quarantine and could not play.
“You literally didn’t see the kids for 14 days (at the start of the season),” Kirkpatrick said. “We practiced for four days and played Statesville, and our kids realized ‘Hey, we can win.’
“We (eventually) were feeling like we were as good as anybody in the conference.”
Kirkpatrick delivered on that promise with another postseason team. He was named Northwestern 3A-4A Coach of the Year by his peers.
He said he had been thinking about a number of things when he began to mull over if he would return as head coach. Included in that was wanting to be available as much as possible to care for his aging parents who live nearby.
Kirkpatrick’s dad, Red, was the first Spartans head football coach — the school opened in 1977 — and Red is 90. Kirkpatrick’s mom is 87.
“That was a part of it,” said Marc Kirkpatrick, who has a passion for grilling and often posts pictures of his handy work on social media. “I was pretty much sure after the season that it was time for me to retire… my mind was made up.”
As they do each year, school administrators met with their head coach to talk about the football program, and Marc Kirkpatrick said he told them he’ll continue to teach (he’s about two years away from being eligible to retire) but not coach.
That the Spartans had a successful year made the decision easier, Kirkpatrick said.
“Ours was an exciting year in many ways,” he said. “This group of seniors … was a great senior class. It was fun at practice with them.
“As a head coach, you are always excited when you can go into a game and know you have a chance to win.”
Marc Kirkpatrick, the starting quarterback at South Caldwell in 1982 and 1983, said among the things he will miss is breaking down film. It was just something he enjoyed.
The most fun thing about being head coach at your alma mater?
“I guess when mom and dad came to the games,” Marc Kirkpatrick said.
South Caldwell has begun a search to fill the open head football coach position and there’s at least the possibility of another former Spartans quarterback getting a shot at calling the shots.
Casey Justice, who coaches the girls’ softball team and is a football assistant, says he will ask to be considered for the opening.
KIRKPATRICK WON’T COACH NEXT SEASON: https://hobbsdailyreport.com/south-caldwell-high/high-school-football-kirkpatrick-wont-return-as-head-coach-at-south-caldwell/