First Posted: 5/18/2011
RED SPRINGS – For the second consecutive year, Red Springs High School is heading into fall with a new football coach and this time, the man in charge will get more than three weeks to prepare his team for their season opener.
Fayetteville native George Coltharp was approved by the Schools of Robeson County board Monday, becoming the 1A school’s third head coach in three seasons following Eric Puryear’s resignation this winter and Jonathan Harper’s departure in May of 2009.
The 35-year-old brings a decade of coaching experience to the Red Devils’ football program, spending the past two seasons as head coach at Western Harnett High School.
“I really think the last three years has created a thirst for winning in the Red Springs community,” Coltharp said Tuesday. “I’m familar with the area and was intrigued by the job. My grandmother and great grandmother were born in Red Springs. I have family in Parkton. It’s a good situation.”
In Lillington, Coltharp managed a 6-17 record overall and resigned after going 2-9 last fall. Coltharp was an assistant and head coach at Westover High School from 2002-06 and during a previous stint on the E.E. Smith football staff, instructed several future NFL players including Seattle’s Aaron Curry.
After school officials conducted a two-month search, Coltharp — a former college football player at East Carolina and Appalachian State — beat out 10 other candidates for the position. He says the short 20-minute commute from home and the draw of leading a staff made him reverse an earlier decision to work on Milton Butts’ staff at Hoke as an assistant.
“We needed some stability here at Red Springs and we think George gives us that,” Red Springs Athletic Director Charles Henderson said. “We have a feeling that Coach C is going be with us for several years. He’s a local guy. If we can get five years out of him, that would be great. He’s going to get things turned around.”
Coltharp inherits a small, yet talented roster that brings back several key contributors including Xavier McEachern — an all-county selection at tailback — and linebacker Zaquan Cobb as well as junior wide receiver JuJu Brown and sophomore quarterback Blake Greene.
McEachern rushed for 750 yards and nine touchdowns last season, helping the Red Devils reach the first round of the state playoffs.
Coltharp has met with some of the team’s upperclassmen this week and says the first official football meeting is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
“I’m excited to sit down with the players and tell them what I’m all about,” Coltharp said. “I’m going to lay down the roots of our program. The No. 1 issue is that kids don’t care about what you know. It’s knowing you care.”
Coltharp plans to incorporate a Pro-I formation offense — a variation of the splitback spread — to utilize overall team speed. For the last eight seasons, his defensive scheme has often been a 3-4 setup, with aggressive linebackers and players in the secondary. Both sides of the ball may be tweaked, according to Coltharp, depending on what he sees from his team during summer practice.
“The key is molding your system around your players, not players around your system,” Coltharp said. “We’ll put the best 11 guys we have on defense, Blake at quarterback and go from there. We’ll get our athletes in the best positions to make plays and then disguise our weaknesses.”
Staff writer Brad Crawford can reached at (910) 272-6119 or [email protected]