Published: Aug 27, 2012 05:56 PM
Modified: Aug 27, 2012 05:57 PM
As conference play begins in the Tri-9 this Friday, the fourth most-tenured football coach of any member school is Green Hope’s Kwame Dixon. He’s entering his second year.
The recent coaching overhaul is the first thing that stands out about this year’s league. Five teams changed coaches – with three retirements and two leaving for other jobs.
Joe Kilby is Apex’s second coach in 20 years, Holly Springs has welcomed former Leesville Road assistant Will Orbin, Athens Drive promoted assistant Chris Martin, Middle Creek hired Mike Castellano out of the college coaching ranks, and Panther Creek plucked Middle Creek’s Sean Crocker.
“It’s kind of weird coming into a season not knowing what you’re going to be facing,” said Cary’s Ben Kolstad, entering his 10th season. “They talk like there are some pretty good coaches coming in, so it’ll be interesting.”
And though teams have one or two games under their belt so far, there is still an unpredictability in week-to-week game planning.
“We kind of threw away all the old scouting reports from year-to-year,” Fuquay-Varina coach Ryan Habich said. “It’ll definitely be a fun year for us.”
As far as who will win the Tri-9, history favors either Fuquay-Varina, Middle Creek, or both. Last year they shared the conference title – though Middle Creek won the head-to-head battles in the regular season and postseason. The last time neither team clinched at least a share of the conference title was 2004.
Cary and Green Hope’s last claim to a conference title was 2005, while Athens Drive earned a share in 2007. Apex last earned a conference championship in 2001, and Lee County most recently shared the 2002 title.
Panther Creek’s only conference title was in 2010.