By CHRIS HOBBS
NEWTON – Steven Pack is ready to have an immediate impact in his new job as head football coach at Newton-Conover High.
“I am honored to be given the opportunity to lead the young men and coaching staff of Newton-Conover onto the field on Friday nights,” Pack said in a press release from the Newton-Conover City Schools on Monday night after its school board approved his employment as a teacher. “I am prepared and fully committed to continuing the football excellence.
“I’m excited to be a part of and carry on the N-C Red Devil football tradition, one of the most prestigious football programs in the state of North Carolina.”
Pack — head coach last season at North Lincoln and a former Red Devils associate head coach under Matt Beam, who he replaces – debuts as Newton-Conover head coach on Aug. 17 in a non-league game at Bunker Hill.
The season-opener will also be the debut of Patrick Clark, a former Maiden assistant, as the new head football coach at Bunker Hill.
Beam resigned after four seasons at Newton-Conover and plans to go into business with his brother in Lincolnton. The Red Devils were 9-4 last season.
Pack’s coaching career spans 15 seasons in four school districts. He began at Polk County, where he was on the coaching staff of Bruce Ollis. He was then at Burns Middle School and Burns for seven years, working with Beam while at Burns.
Pack rejoined Beam at Newton-Conover, working there for two years, before moving to North Lincoln to replace retiring David Maness for the 2017 season.
Newton-Conover principal Chris Penley worked with Pack during his two seasons there.
“I’m excited that Steven Pack will be the leader of the Newton-Conover High School football program,” Penley said in the press release. “Coach Pack is a tireless worker on and off the field and I appreciate the character and integrity that he carries himself with and will model for our players, our school, and our community.”
Overall, Pack has one season as a head coach at the prep level, five years as an associate head coach, 13 years as an offensive line coach and eight years coaching strength and conditioning.
“I am very excited to have Steven Pack back at Newton-Conover High School as our new head football coach,” Red Devils athletic director John Echerd said in the press release. “He is a great football coach that has the ability to connect with young athletes. Coach Pack will be a great leader for our football program.”
Pack graduated from Mars Hill College with a bachelor of arts Degree in Sports Science/Physical Education in 2001. He later completed a Master of Arts degree in Executive Leadership with Principal Licensure from Gardner-Webb University in 2010.
The Red Devils completed their change in head football coaches in about two weeks.
When Beam resigned in early May, saying he would enter private business in Lincolnton after four seasons with the Red Devils, assistant coach Darren Ponder was announced as the interim head coach.
Three days later, Ponder decided against taking the job – he has since applied an interviewed for a coaching job elsewhere – and Newton-Conover re-started its search and interviewed at least five candidates in the middle of last week.
The Knights went 2-9 last season, including 1-6 in the South Fork 2A, and finished in seventh place. Their wins were 47-6 in a season-opener against the Carolina Wildcats and 55-7 at Lake Norman Charter.
North Lincoln went 2-9 in 2016 and scored 163 points. Last season, the Knights averaged 34 points per game and scored 40 or more in five games that included a 53-50 loss to close the season at Bandys.
Pack had the South Fork 2A’s sixth-leading rusher last season, Clayton Cribbs (162-1,080 yards, 14 TDs), its leading passer in Reed McRorie (149-251-9 for 2,343 yards, 27 TDs) and four wide receivers in the top 10 – Caleb Holley (47-7904, 9 TDs, second); Daekwon Camp (40-616, 7, fourth) and Zach Rhodes (34-552, 8, sixth and Jake Soorus (20-344, 1, 10th).