The defending Greater Neuse River 4A Conference champion football team has a new leader. He’s not new to the program.
Knightdale High School named Cedric Dargan, who most recently served as the Knights’ defensive coordinator, to the top position Wednesday.
He replaces Rob Senseney, who left Knightdale in April after taking the job of head football coach at Burns High School in Lawndale., near Shelby, in February.
Dargan held a team meeting Thursday to officially break the news.
“I’m thrilled and the kids seem excited about it,” Dargan said. “They’re ready to work.”
Dargan said the program has faced little setback in the transition since he has been acting as head coach since Senseney’s departure.
“We’re not that far behind everybody else, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do to catch up,” he said.
Dargan is a native of Jacksonville, N.C., where he played football for White Oak High School. He went on to play as running back for Duke University for five seasons before graduating in 2005.
He was the leading rusher on the 2004 Duke football team with 462 yards despite missing time with injuries. He played in 10 games as a freshman in 2001, but had a season-ending ankle fracture in 2002 and redshirted.
In 2003, Dargan was the Blue Devils’ second-leading rusher with 264 yards as a sophomore and led the rushing game as a junior. He played in the first five games of his senior season before a torn ACL ended his career.
“When it was my time to shine, I got injured,” Dargan said. “There was no combine, no Senior Bowl. I was recovering.”
He began his coaching career as chief of the junior varsity team at Middle Creek High in 2006. He first came to Knightdale to serve as head JV coach for the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
After a one-year stint working as offensive assistant coach at N.C. Central University, Dargan returned to Knightdale in 2010. He has called the Knights’ defense ever since.
He expects to be the Knightdale offensive coordinator next season.
“We have only one offensive line starter back,” Dargan said. “We’re missing some of the offensive explosion we had in the backfield this year.
“It looks like a rebuilding year, but the kids aren’t buying that. They are working hard and think we can build on last year.”
Dargan takes over a program that reached an all-time high in 2013. The season included several firsts in Knightdale football history – the conference crown, a triumph over league power Garner and a ticket past the first round of the state playoffs.
The Knights’ postseason ended as they took Scotland High School to the wire in in Laurinburg in the third round of the playoffs. That proved to be the final chapter of a quick turnaround by Senseney, who was hired at Knightdale in 2010 following a 1-10 season in 2009.
Senseney’s teams went 3-8 in 2010, 4-6 in 2011 and 7-4 in 2012 before the Knights finished 11-2 last season with an 8-0 mark in the Greater Neuse.
Staff writer Tim Stevens contributed to this report.