East players, community turn out for meet-and-greet with new coach, Kenneth McClamrock
GRANITE QUARRY — On Wednesday night, Samuel and Seth Wyrick officially became only the second most famous set of twins at East Rowan, and Shenell and Shenique Pharr slipped down to third place.
Knox and Kenneth James, who probably will go through life as K.J., are the 10-month-old twin sons of Maggie and new football coach Kenneth McClamrock. The new twins on the block threatened to steal the show as the Mustangs held a meet-and-greet for the McClamrock family that included hot dogs, chips, Cheerwine and a nice turnout of players, parents and supporters.
“I didn’t know if anyone would show up,” said a pleased McClamrock, who employed a microphone for his mini-speech but didn’t need it. He has a head football coach’s voice.
Maybe it was because the informal gathering was held in the school cafeteria, but folks seemed to eat up everything McClamrock had to say. He’s personable and even the most skeptical people in the audience seemed willing to give him an opportunity to show he can coach.
Coach McClamrock is 32 and looks even younger. He is un-grizzled. The twins haven’t aged him much yet.
He is not a household name at this point. Chances are if you aren’t close to the Concord or North Meck football programs, you’d never heard of McClamrock until East announced a week ago that he’d been approved by the powers that be as the new head coach.
Danny Misenheimer’s resignation was announced in early January after two seasons as East’s head coach — one great one and one so-so one.
East co-AD John McNeil explained that the coaching search was extensive. The East opening attracted about 60 applicants. That initial 60 was chopped down to 11 who were granted interviews. Those 11 were sliced down to a final four, appropriate for this time of year, and one of those four actually was hired recently by another school.
McNeil said East is enthused about McClamrock.
“He wowed us and wowed us for a lot of reasons,” McNeil said. “He’s a very good classroom teacher, and that’s a factor. He has great energy and he’s someone we thought would fit well with our kids and that our kids would like. He also came in with a lot of knowledge of our returning players and what they can do, and that impressed the search committee. He knew a lot about the Wyricks, and he also was very familiar with Max Wall and Jake Boltz and some others.”
McNeil pointed out McClamrock has a surprising amount of coaching experience for a 32-year-old — almost 12 years worth. He has coordinated powerful offenses. He’s been the guy who breaks down the film and he’s a guy who’s had significant input as far as offensive gameplans and big games.
He took a reduced role at Concord last season — the Spiders practice from 6 until 9 — because of the twins, but he still had a part in all that winning that took place on Thursdays and Fridays.
McClamrock is a Concord High graduate, and like a generation of Spiders played for E.Z. Smith. He was a tight end. Current Concord coach Glen Padgett, who coached the Spiders to 3A state runner-up finishes the last two seasons, is the biggest influence on McClamrock. After McClamrock graduated college at UNC Charlotte, he immediately joined Padgett at North Meck. When Smith retired and Padett made the move from North Meck to Concord, McClamrock stayed with him.
Padgett is highly regarded as both a winning coach and a positive influence on young people. He endorsed McClamrock, along with a number of Concord coaches and administrators.
“Coach Padgett is where my coaching foundation comes from,” McClamrock said. “I wouldn’t say that I have one offensive and defensive system that’s set in stone. I believe you adapt to the personnel you have. If you’ve watched Concord from year to year, you saw teams that did very different things. One of the first things Coach Padgett taught me is you gotta do what your kids can do.”
That’s true. The 2012 Spiders threw it around with record-setting QB B.J. Beecher. The 2013 Spiders relied on record-setting back Rocky Reid and, while they could throw when they wanted to, they mostly just battered teams on the ground.
East’s Samuel Wyrick-directed offense the last two years has been the split-back veer, and East has run a 3-5 defense, with great success in 2012 but modest results in 2013. The 3-5 is a good bet to stay, but it’s a certainty the veer will be scrapped for a more wide-open, pass-friendly offense.
“The thing we’ve all learned in the last week is that Coach McClamrock knows what he’s doing,” said record-setting junior receiver Seth Wyrick. “Coach is smart. He was successful at Concord, and he can be successful here. It’s a tough transition to change head coaches and change systems for your senior year, but we are going to do everything we can to make it work.”
East has played 55 football seasons, and McClamrock is the 20th head coach. To put that number in perspective, North Rowan, one year older than East, has had eight head coaches, while South Rowan, two years younger than East, has had only five.
East has lost coaches because of 1-10s and 0-11s and for a variety of other reasons. But McClamrock starts fresh and said all the right things about coaching stability being a key to program success.
“I’ll treat your sons like they were my own sons,” he told the audience.
It’s ironic that the best game East has played in recent years — the epic overtime battle at Concord in the third round of the 2012 playoffs — had McClamrock on the opposite sideline, coaching just as hard as the Mustangs were playing against him.
“I think it’s an advantage that I have coached against East,” McClamrock said. “I feel like I know what East kids are all about. They work their butts off, and every down, every quarter, they bring it. East kids never quit, and it fires me up to get to coach kids like that.”
McClamrock will have a better chance to succeed that some East coaches had in the past. Demographics have changed, and East’s athletes right now are about as good as anyone’s. East’s boys have won seven of the last eight county track meets, which is a reasonable indicator of athleticism.
A history teacher, McClamrock is a huge fan of old-school president Theodore “Speak softly and carry a big stick” Roosevelt, but he pointed to more recent history in recounting a story to his new team.
He got a call almost exactly a year ago from his wife’s sister telling him that the twins were trying to force their way into the world 13 weeks early and Maggie was headed to the hospital.
But the twins ended up waiting a while, and now they’re active and healthy. Last night the twins made the longest trip they’ve ever made from home when they visited Granite Quarry.
“It just shows how much your life can change in a year,” McClamrock said.
East’s players’ lives have changed a lot in the last year and so have the lives of the coaching staff. McNeil said McClamrock called the staff shortly after he was hired, and they both hope the corps of assistants will remain intact.
“A lot of people believe Coach McClamrock is the best man for the job,” Seth Wyrick said. “We can’t look back. We’ve all got to look ahead.”