By CHRIS HOBBS
LENOIR – West Caldwell High on Thursday welcomed the return of its all-time winningest head football coach.
In a press release, the Warriors’ athletic department named Mike Biggerstaff – whose West Caldwell teams from 1979 through 1987 went 75-26 – as the next head football coach.
The field at West Caldwell’s Thuss Stadium was named after Biggerstaff in 2016.
He is coming out of retirement to coach, having last been a head coach at East Burke, and will be a non-faculty coach.
“I wasn’t looking for a job…” Biggerstaff said Thursday night. “(But) West Caldwell… those people have been good to me.”
“We’ve got work to do,” Biggerstaff said, noting he wants to return the consistently of the Warriors’ program to what it was in his first tenure as head coach there.
Biggerstaff, 70, began tenures as a head coach at R-S Central (two years) before guiding West Caldwell (nine years).
After working in private business for 14 years, Biggerstaff was hired as head coach at East Burke and guided the Cavs for eight years before leaving after the 2009 season.
This season will be his 20th as a head coach and his 26th in coaching.
“What a great day to be a Warrior,” West Caldwell athletic director Stephen McMasters said in the press release. “We are honored and proud to hire Coach Biggerstaff home to West Caldwell to lead our football program and to mentor young men.
“We set out to hire the best coach we could find and we decided to shoot for the moon.
“Coach Biggerstaff has a heart to lead our football program back where it belongs and he is driven to help the young men in our school.
“He will now begin working to assemble a top-notch staff and start spring practice when we return from spring break.
“We are fortunate to have Coach Biggerstaff back on the sideline. It’s a great day to be a Warrior!”
Biggerstaff’s coaching career also includes as an assistant at Marion High, his alma mater, and at Freedom under the late Ralph (Jug) Wilson, a North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) Hall of Famer.
Biggerstaff retired after the 1987 season at West Caldwell and was out of coaching until hired by East Burke. He replaces DeVore Holman, who spent the last two seasons as head coach at West Caldwell.
West Caldwell announced in early November that Holman would not return as head coach, and he has since been named head coach at Lexington (N.C.).
The Warriors went 0-11 last season, including 0-7 in the Northwestern Foothills 2A (place). They were 6-6, 3-4 in Holman’s first season.
West Caldwell will leave Class 3A and the Northwestern 3A-4A in August, a request approved by the NCHSAA after enrollment at the school declined in the first two years of the most recent statewide realignment.
Current enrollment at West Caldwell is 740.
The Warriors will play next season in the Northwestern Foothills 2A with Biggerstaff’s debut on Aug. 23 in a non-conference game at South Caldwell.
“We are so excited to finally be naming a head football coach,” West Caldwell principal Craig Styer said in the press release. “We wanted to ensure we were hiring, not only the best football coach, but the best person to truly know what our student-athletes and community need.
“We have truly hit a grand slam with Coach Biggerstaff. The success he has had in not only win percentages, but in producing successful, productive citizens is second to none. We are truly hiring the perfect person for the job!
“We look forward to watching the program grow and seeing West Caldwell back competitive on the gridiron.”
Biggerstaff led West Caldwell to six conference titles and was named a conference coach of the year three times and also served as a coach in the East-West All-Star game and in the 1985 Shrine Bowl.
A member of the Caldwell County Sports Hall of Fame and also the Western Carolina Hall of Fame (2016), Biggerstaff played college football at WCU from 1966-1969 as an offensive lineman and inside linebacker. He went to WCU as a walk-on and earned a scholarship.
Biggerstaff’s wife, Sandee, retired from a career at West Caldwell and his son, Joe Don, was a standout athlete and graduated in 1983.