MORGANTON – Patton High’s next head football coach comes from its current coaching staff, and he also coaches the Panthers’ varsity baseball team.
Jonathan Browning — selected interim head coach when Tom Eanes left to become head football coach at Bandys late last month – was named head coach on Wednesday, a press release by the Burke County Public Schools (BCPS) said.
Browning, an assistant football coach in each of the six seasons he has worked at Patton, debuts as head coach when the Panthers play at Hunter Huss on Aug. 17.
“I am extremely excited to have this opportunity to lead this great group of student-athletes and coaches,” Browning said in the BCPS press release. “I have loved my time working with the students and being a part of the Patton community. My goal is to be the leader they deserve.”
Patton Principal Sara LeCory said Browning’s competitiveness, experience and relationship with current Patton student-athletes helped him become the school’s sixth head varsity football coach.
“Coach Browning stood out among our applicants for his philosophy, his student-centered beliefs, and his competitive nature,” LeCroy said in the press release. “His experience and understanding of our students, school and community will enable him to be an excellent fit in this position and continue to do good things for Patton football.”
Browning is a Burke County native and played offense line and linebacker at Freedom High, where he was a team captain in 1993 as the Patriots went 5-5. He also played first base in baseball for Freedom.
He is a 1994 graduate of Freedom and a 2000 graduate of Appalachian State, and has been a coach and health and physical education teacher at Patton for seven years. He has been defensive coordinator for Patton.
“Coach Browning already has a rapport with our players, and I know our athletes will continue to look up to him and give him and the team their all,” Patton athletic director Jeff Williams said in the press release. “He has great experience as a player and as a coach in both football and baseball and is entrenched in the Patton community. I’m excited about the future of Patton football with Coach Browning at the helm.”
Browning will meet with student-athletes at 6 p.m. on Thursday in the school auditorium.
“I expect them to give maximum effort and have a great attitude,” Browning said of his players in the press release. “They will be as well prepared as any team we face.
“We did lose some seniors and had a very good team last year, but because of some injuries last year, some younger guys were able to get valuable playing time so we have some underclassman returning with varsity experience.”
Dr. Larry Putnam, BCPS Superintendent, said in the press release: “High school academics and athletics go hand-in-hand. Student-athletes are important, but our first focus has to be on students and teaching.
“Coach Browning understands this. With his years of experience, he is a great choice for Patton’s head football coach.
“I commend Mrs. LeCroy on selecting a local guy who has intentions of staying here.
“I look forward to the community getting behind Coach Browning and supporting him and the students.”
Patton is coming off its most success varsity football season in school history, going 5-1 last season in the Northwestern 3A-4A to finish in second place and finishing 9-4 overall. In the past two seasons, the Panthers went 17-9.
Browning has been Patton’s head varsity baseball coach for five seasons. He replaced Kurt Reid in 2014 and has guided the Panthers to a 60-63 record, to the state playoffs three times and to a 12-12 record last season.