Brian Harrington’s memories of his senior year at Northwood High School will serve as a useful goad to spur his team to success, the Chargers’ new football coach said Tuesday.
Harrington, who served as Northwood’s defensive coordinator for 14 years under recently retired coach Bill Hall, was confirmed as the Chargers’ head coach Monday night by the Chatham County school board.
“This has always been my dream job,” said Harrington, who graduated from Northwood in 1991 and went on to play at North Carolina A&T State.
Harrington returned to Pittsboro immediately after completing his undergraduate degree in math and promptly went to work alongside Hall as an assistant coach for the junior varsity football team. He served as the JV’s offensive coordinator, while Hall was defensive coordinator, both of them working under Northwood then-varsity head coach Jim Pappas.
When Pappas left for Cedar Ridge 16 years ago, Hall was named varsity head coach, and he immediately tabbed Harrington as an assistant. Harrington coached varsity linemen for a couple of seasons before Hall named him offensive coordinator and assistant head coach.
“Coach Hall did a great job, and I’ve got some big shoes to fill,” Harrington said. “He’s been preparing me for this, getting me ready. He’s been a mentor to me.”
Hall’s teams enjoyed a superlative run over the past decade. From 2005 through 2010, Northwood won 62 and lost 21 games, and in a five-year stretch, the Chargers reached the NCHSAA third round each year.
But Harrington remembers when things didn’t work out so well. His senior year, Northwood self-reported that it had fielded an ineligible player. The Chargers went from 6-1 to 0-7.
“We had to win our last four games to get eligible for the state playoffs,” he recalled. “We played Thomasville in the first round and lost 13-7. They went on to win the state championship.”
That taught Harrington that there was more to being a coach than just blowing a whistle and calling plays.
“I learned a lot from that,” he said. “That was a good lesson for anyone, that they need to pay attention to details.”
Harrington inherits a team program that went 8-4 and 9-3 over the last two years, but which will graduated 24 seniors this spring. That includes all-conference quarterback Ti Pinnix, signed for Elizabeth City State, and Winston-Salem State signee Kadarus Rone, a talented multi-purpose back.
“We’re losing a lot of good players,” he said. “The cupboard isn’t bare, but we need to do some grocery shopping.”
Harrington said the effort he’s seen in Northwood’s off-season workouts makes him confident the Chargers will do well.
“Everyone has been working hard at weight training and conditioning, as much as the state allows,” Harrington said. “We’ve got some great guys. When you see them working like that, you have to be optimistic.”