Robert Graham is Apex’s next football coach, the school announced Thursday. Graham is a career and technical education teacher at the school who played tight end at Fayetteville State and North Carolina A&T.
Graham wants to learn his team’s strengths and weaknesses but said he will run the pass-oriented spread offense with coordinator Isaac Bristol and a 3-3-3 stack defense with coordinator Fred Blanks.
The past two years, Graham has been the head coach at nearby Lufkin Road Middle, compiling a record of 10-6. Graham previously coached at Apex with Bob Wolfe, the school’s all-time leader in wins, and was an assistant when next year’s seniors were ninth-graders.
“I started out with these kids when they were freshmen, so I haven’t seen all of them play,” Graham said. “We’re going to have to identify what we have and fit them where we need them in our system.”
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Athletics director Del Phillips said he was impressed with Graham’s demeanor, calling him a “calming presence” and a “no-nonsense kind of guy.” Graham said he learned organizational skills from Wolfe and how to be a teacher of the game from his middle school students.
“Coaching middle school takes a lot of patience,” Graham said. “You try to put them where they need to be, but you’ve got to let them figure it out as they go sometimes.”
Apex went 5-7 last year, snapping a five-year postseason drought and making the school’s first trip to the NCHSAA playoffs since 2008.
“He’s got some talent coming back, it’s just a matter of them adapting to his style,” Phillips said. “He’s going to be real dedicated to the JV program, and that’s something that sometimes gets pushed aside.”