Eastern Wake: Sports

Knightdale’s Senseney to take over as head football coach at Burns High School

Knightdale football coach Rob Senseney talks to his players after practice Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013.
Knightdale football coach Rob Senseney talks to his players after practice Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. amoody@newsobserver.com

When coach Rob Senseney paces the sidelines next season it won’t be on the Knightdale High School football field.

The Cleveland County Board of Education formally approved hiring Senseney on Monday as a PE/health teacher and new head football coach at Burns High School. The Lawndale, N.C. school is located about 15 miles north of Shelby.

Senseney applied for the job a few weeks ago and expects to make the move sometime in April. He said he pursued the position in the best interest of his family.

“(Cleveland County Schools) offer 12 months pay and Wake County doesn’t,” Senseney said. “The coaching salary was much better. It was just a better situation for my family, financially.

“I would’ve been more than happy to stay in Wake County, but when you get an opportunity where you get paid 12 months, versus 10 months, you’ve got to look at it.”

Senseney broke the news to Knightdale players on an individual basis. He said his move had been rumored for a while and for most players the news was not really news.

“With today’s social media, they knew about me getting approved before I did,” Senseney said.

Knightdale hired Senseney in 2010 following its football team’s 1-10 season in 2009. After three straight years of improvement – with records of 3-8 in 2010, 4-6 in 2011 and 7-4 in 2012 – Senseney’s 2013 team rewrote school record books by going 11-2, including an 8-0 mark in Greater Neuse River 4A play.

The 2013 season included several firsts for the Knightdale football program – a conference title, a win against 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 the third round in Laurinburg.

“It’s definitely better than when I found it,” he said of the Knightdale program. “Now there’s an established expectation of working and an expectation to win. I think there’s great kids here who have worked hard and I expect and hope good things for them.”

Offensive lineman and rising senior Duncan Harris said he and fellow players were more shocked than shaken by Senseney’s decision to relocate.

“We’re not really upset, we’re kind of just surprised after the good season we had,” Harris said. “We knew there was a possibility other schools would want him after that season, but we didn’t know he would leave when he did.

“But no matter the coach, we’re still going to put out the most effort and focus on winning. (Senseney) instilled that never-quit attitude and I don’t plan on losing my senior year.”

Senseney had only positive things to say about his work environment at Knightdale.

“It was a great four years – a hard four years getting the program where you think it should be, but there are a lot of good people there,” he said. “I’ve got no complaints about anyone there.

“The way the administration treated me there was great. I got to work with a lot of good people there.”

Senseney, who led Gretna High teams to Virginia 2A state championships in 2003 and 2004, boasts an all-time record of 104-39 (.727) at four schools including Knightdale.

In Cleveland County, he’ll take over a program that knows similar success. The Burns varsity football team posted an 11-2 record in its 2013 campaign under coach Matt Beam. The team finished second in the South Mountain Athletic 2A/3A Conference at 7-1.

“This school is a lot like Gretna,” Senseney said. “They have high expectations from where they had won a lot of games, close to 60 wins in the last five years. It’s a little different of a challenge. The expectations (from the start) are to win.”