Friday, January 18, 2013

A few more things about Raymond Cobb you might not know

Former SouthWest Edgecombe High head football coach Raymond Cobb was kind enough to sit down with me this week to reminisce about his 33-year teaching and coaching career, which will come to an end Jan. 31 when he retires. Of course, I don't expect him to be a total stranger since he plans on functioning as an advisor/assistant to his son, Jonathan, who will take over the Cougars varsity edition in the fall.

The elder Cobb spent nearly two hours telling story after story about his illustrious career, which included N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A championships in 1994 and 1997 at North Edgecombe. My story on him in Thursday's edition of The Wilson Times covered a lot of ground but there were a few things I didn't include.

So here they are:

• Cobb was the head coach at North Edgecombe from 1988 to 2003 and served as J.V. head coach from 1981 to 1983 and varsity assistant from 1981 to 1987. He succeeded Tom Collins as Warriors head coach. Collins, who was head coach for one season, would go on to become athletic director at Campbell University and Brevard College.

• At North Edgecombe, Cobb's teams never lost a state playoff game at home.

• His 1996 North Edgecombe team ran for 5,980 yards, which is still an NCHSAA record.

• Milton Shaw, Cobb's star running back from 1989 to 1991, was named The Associated Press Player of the Year in 1991. The only Warrior to achieve that distinction. Shaw also holds the state record for consecutive games of rushing for 100 or more yards with 24.

• In 1992 and 1994, North Edgecombe tied a state record shared by many by not allowing a single first down in a game, both times against Jamesville.

• Cobb's famous wishbone offense was developed from University of Colorado's I-bone attack in the early 1990s. Cobb wrote to then Buffaloes head coach Bill McCartney, who sent him a playbook. The Warriors didn't make the switch to the wishbone until 1994, the year of their first state championship.

• Cobb's quarterback at North Edgecombe in 1993, Tyrice Pittman, threw for 2,332 yards, which is probably more than his half of teams nine teams at SouthWest combined threw for.

• Only Jimmy Tillman, SouthWest's second football coach who was there for 11 seasons, led the Cougars longer than Cobb.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Will the Thrill indeed

Will Privette has gained instant fame for being toppled from his wheelchair during the N.C. State students' mad dash onto the court in PNC Arena following the No. 20-ranked Wolfpack's toppling of No. 1 Duke on Saturday.

Hey, he even got a story in The Wilson Times! But that's only right since Will has been a contributor to the Times since he was barely a teenager, writing features and columns on the Carolina Mudcats. His family owned the land on which Five County Stadium is built and Will has been a fixture there since he was born.

When I interviewed him for the story, I reminded him that he won't be able to storm the court once he's a journalist (and he will make an outstanding one should he choose that career path). Will might think about publishing a tutorial on the proper way to storm a court and avoid a scary moment like that one. Good thing Wolfpack star C.J. Leslie was able to scoop him up before he got trampled!

Here's the footage Will took of his thrilling ride just before it the wave of pandemonium crashed into him (actually it was Pack freshman Rodney Purvis but you get the point).

Friday, January 4, 2013

Hinnant an easy choice for Hunt job

The announcement Thursday by Hunt High Principal Jerry Simmons that Stevie Hinnant would be the school's next — and fifth — varsity football head coach really comes as no surprise. That is, at least since Randy Raper's shocking announcement two weeks ago that he was leaving Hunt after 22 seasons and head coach to take the job at Northern Nash.

Hinnant, the school's athletic director, was the assistant head coach and had been the offensive coordinator since 2002 and basically has been at Hunt, well, forever. He and I walked through the doors as freshmen in the waning days of summer in 1980 and, except for two years while he was a student at Atlantic Christian (now Barton) College, Stevie has been a Warrior. Heck, he was a Warrior the day, probably in sixth grade, he found out Rock Ridge High was turning into an elementary school and he would go to Hunt. As a ninth-grade football teammate at Hunt, I seem to recall there being some jests made that he would probably end up being the football coach there one day. Well, 33 years later, here we are.

I still remember him shoving a wad of Skoal in his mouth before football practice and thinking he was plumb crazy. Remember, this was well before tobacco prohibition on school campuses or during athletic events. It was one thing to stick in a chaw for baseball but another to have tobacco in one's mouth (and Skoal no less!) while playing football.

But Stevie was a little bit crazy back then and he had to be. He was an undersized linebacker at maybe 5-foot-8 and 150 pounds soaking wet, but daggone if he wouldn't do just about anything to drag somebody to the ground. And that team, with Stevie right in the middle of the defense, our senior year (I was just a spectator by then) in 1983 went 12-2, winning the Big East Conference title and making it to the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4-A Eastern final before losing to a Fayetteville Byrd team with future NFL players Donnell Woolford and Brad Edwards, among others.

As a head coach Hinnant's got a deep legacy to meet in Raper, who had one losing season out of 22 and won 203 games. But Hinnant has been there nearly every step of the way. In fact, he got to Hunt as a ninth-grader a year before Raper started working there. So perhaps a bit of the credit for all those winning seasons should go to Hinnant.

For a 35-year-old program to only have four head coaches is remarkable, especially considering two of the coaches were one-and-dones. Give Bill Williamson credit for building the foundation and Raper credit for putting up the sides and the roof. Now maybe Hinnant will be the one to put the finishing touches on it and get the one thing the program still doesn't have — a state championship.

He'll have plenty of time because Stevie Hinnant will more than likely be at Hunt for the duration, either his or the school's!