Published: Jan 18, 2012 02:45 AM
Modified: Jan 18, 2012 08:40 AM
CARY - Head football coach Sean Crocker had been at Middle Creek High School for seven years, and each day he drove to work - whether for a game, offseason workout or a normal day at school - he drove near Panther Creek High.
That commute will be shortened from 35 minutes one way to just five next year, as Crocker was introduced as Panther Creek's new coach last week.
Both schools are members of the Tri-Nine Conference and are located virtually on opposite sides of Cary.
"I found it intriguing that a successful coach with an outstanding track record at a rival high school would express interest in us," said Panther Creek Athletic Director Todd Schuler.
But Crocker, who has two young daughters, wanted to spend more time with his family - not just for the short-term, where he would be able to come home more frequently, but for the long-term, as his daughters eventually will attend Panther Creek.
"As I make this transition, it's pretty much because of my commitment to family and to satisfy a promise that I made over seven years ago when I started my pursuit of a head coaching job," Crocker said. "To be near family and cut a 35-minute drive one way was really big for me, but I could do that at a couple of different places. ... It had to be the right fit and right situation."
Crocker went 44-22 (31-7 in conference) in five seasons as Middle Creek's head coach, winning three conference titles with the Mustangs and advancing to the third round of the playoffs in 2009. He was a Middle Creek assistant for two seasons prior to becoming head coach.
Crocker's Middle Creek teams were 5-1 against PC and split last year's regular-season and playoff matchups.
All of the Mustangs' success made it hard for Crocker to inform his players that he was leaving.
"It kind of hit them out of left field. A lot of them were shocked and didn't know what to think," Crocker said. Crocker replaces Wayne Bragg, the school's head coach since it opened in 2006, who is now the athletics director at Green Hope.
Bragg's teams used more of a pro-style offense, while Crocker's Middle Creek teams were known for their no-huddle spread offenses.
"(Our identity) will depend on what the personnel is," Crocker said.