Before Sherman Howze was even interviewing for the job as Chatham Central’s next head football coach, he stopped by the school with his fianceé, a Chatham Central alumnae. They walked on the field, and Howze felt something pulling at him.
Despite success in other male sports, the Bears have struggled mightily in football. The top win-loss record over the last decade is a pair of 4-8 marks. The last winning season was in 1978.
None of that mattered to Howze. In fact, it might have given him more reason to take the job.
“I told her ‘This is where I want to be, I think this is where God led me to be,’” Howze said. “To lead a team, to change a mindset of a school, the players and athletes all around – all sports.”
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Howze was hired on June 14, and the Bears’ roster quickly increased from about 20 players to almost 45, almost entirely thanks to word-of-mouth excitement stemming from his arrival.
“The kids did the recruiting. I didn’t have to go looking for nobody,” Howze said. “When I opened up the weight room, faces just started showing up. It went from 15 to 20, from 20 to 30, from 30 to 40, and the last week before the dead week we ended up with 43 guys.”
What’s the biggest obstacle?
As Howze puts it, there are athletes walking the hallways at Chatham Central who haven’t been playing football. The Bears regularly put together good basketball teams and are among the state’s best in wrestling and baseball.
A smaller obstacle, but just as important: finding more assistant coaches. Right now it’s just Howze and Sam Spencer.
What’s Howze’s experience?
Howze has spent 16 years as a defensive coordinator at stops in Florida and North Carolina. Last year, he showed commitment by driving two-and-a-half hours from Greensboro to Charlotte as the defensive coordinator at Olympic High, then driving three hours back each day.
He knows a thing about commitment.
“These kids give me life,” Howze said. “We’re building a bond. We’re building trust. We’re building a comittment. We’re going to achieve the goals we set out to achieve, and that’s winning ballgames.”
Can the Bears take a step forward this year?
Howze likes the area, likes the kids he’s working with, and they like him and his system. The Bears could take a few games they were unable to last season.
Howze is hoping for 3-0 or 2-1 going into conference play.
“I’m planning on being here for a long time, regardless of the situation. I know they haven’t won here in a long time, and it’s time for a change. We’re going to win some ballgames,” Howze said. “We’re going to compete this year. Where we stand, I don’t know, but right now I feel good about what we’re doing. ... Do I think we’re going to have a good season? Yes I do. I truly do. I think this is going to be a turnaround season.”
More on the Bears
Last year: 0-11 (0-8 Yadkin Valley 1A)
Five year average: 2-10 (1-7)
Preseason N&O rank: Unranked
Coaches: Sherman Howze (HC/DC/ST), Sam Spencer (OC)
Contributors: Hunter Little (Sr., QB/FS), Josiah Washington (RB/DB), Kevin Greenwood (Sr., FB/LB), Josh Williams (Jr., WR/S), Lofton Dodson (Soph., WR/DB) D’marco Thomason (Jr., WR/DB), Justin Pate (Jr., OL), Barrett Townsend (Jr., OL/DL), Cameron Tillman (Sr., OL/DL), Cody Van Horn (Soph., OL/DL), Logan Mize (Jr., DB/WR), Phillip Baird (Sr., DB/WR)
The main number: 13 – Chatham Central has been shut out 13 times over the last three seasons.
Aug. 19 at Wake Christian, 7 p.m.
Aug. 26 at Hobbton, 7 p.m.
Sep. 2 vs. Kestrel Heights, 7 p.m.
Sep. 9* vs. West Montgomery, 7 p.m.
Sep. 16* vs. Albemarle, 7 p.m.
Sep. 23* at East Montgomery , 7 p.m.
Sep. 30 BYE
Oct. 7* at North Stanly, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14* vs. South Stanly, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21* at Union Academy, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28* at North Moore, 7 p.m.
Nov. 4* vs. South Davidson, 7 p.m.
Note: *Conference game.