Hinson up next at East Rowan

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 24, 2006

By Mike London

Salisbury Post

GRANITE QUARRY — Brian Hinson found a job promotion underneath his Christmas tree.

Hinson, East Rowan’s offensive coordinator and line coach, has been elevated to head football coach.

Making things even more exciting in the household, Hinson’s wife is expecting the couple’s first child in June

“I’ve got two very life-changing experiences ahead of me this coming year,” said Hinson, who turns 30 in February.

Changing diapers is challenging, but coaching East football is as challenging as changing quadruplets.

Hinson, a tremendous offensive tackle at Catawba from 1995-99, is East’s 15th head coach (counting W.A. Cline’s two tours of duty). Only three of his predecessors left with winning records.

Hinson replaces Jim Crawley, a class act with five-star dedication who just wasn’t able to get his team over the hump on Friday nights.

Crawley guided East during two seasons of 4A football. East won one CPC game on the field during his watch and another by forfeit. East also beat North Stanly in overtime in a non-league game.

Crawley went into the books with a 3-18 mark. That’s not the worst record in school history, by any means.

East is 16-61 the last seven seasons under four different head coaches. Its best record in that stretch was the 5-7 mark fashioned by one-hit wonder Will Orbin in 2004.

The Mustangs have lost 13 straight to North Rowan. They’ve also dropped seven straight to both West Rowan and South Rowan and five in a row to Salisbury. East hasn’t beaten a county opponent since opening night, 2001.

If that paints a grim picture, keep in mind East also didn’t have a winning team during the decade of the 1980s and has claimed just one conference co-championship in the past 32 seasons.

Still, Hinson sounds like a guy who’s headed to Hawaii for a two-month vacation. That enthusiasm is part of the reason he was hired.

“Brian’s young and energetic, and we believe he can bring the program to a new level,” athletics director Worth Roberts said. “He’s good working with the kids. He also has the solid football background to do what we need.”

Hinson’s background is solid and interesting.

His hometown is Star — population 800 — and he wasn’t sure he’d get recruited at 1A East Montgomery High.

But Catawba offensive line coach Jamie Snider, who is now on the staff at Coastal Carolina, checked out Hinson. He’d heard Hinson was 6-foot-1, 250 pounds. When he discovered Hinson was more like 6-3, 275, he was thrilled.

After a chat with then-head Catawba coach David Bennett, Hinson’s mother was sold. One visit and one workout later, Hinson was ready to become a Catawba Indian.

Hinson redshirted in 1995, the year rookie head coach Bennett transformed a 2-9 squad into a 7-3 contender.

Hinson was a big part of the ride that followed. He started as a redshirt freshman, made All-SAC as a sophomore and was named to D-II All-America teams his last two years.

“I just kind of got lucky, very lucky to learn from great people,” Hinson said. “The asset I had as an offensive lineman was good feet because I’d always been a basketball player. We never pass-blocked at East Montgomery, but the good news was I didn’t have any bad habits to unlearn at Catawba.”

By Hinson’s senior year, Catawba was a regional power. It went 11-2 in 1999, falling to national runner-up Carson-Newman twice, including a 28-25 struggle in the second round of the playoffs.

Hinson received the Kirkland Award as Catawba’s top male athlete and the Jacobs Trophy as the SAC’s top offensive lineman.

After graduating, Hinson worked on Roger Secreast’s staff at North Rowan and helped develop players such as Shrine Bowler Jarrett Wishon.

Next, Hinson rejoined Bennett and Snider as a graduate assistant at Coastal Carolina.

He became part of East’s staff in 2005 and advanced to a coordinator role this past season.

During his two years in Spencer, Hinson watched Secreast’s unique style coax 20 wins out of the Cavaliers. He also studied the methods Bennett used to build winners at two schools.

Now Hinson has the opportunity to orchestrate a turnaround of his own, and there is some hope.

Hinson has the advantage of familiarity with the players. East’s recent football hires have come from outside the program, and coaches have had to learn the names and faces.

East has also produced two straight strong junior varsity teams, and this year’s squad even drove 93 yards against the clock to beat Mount Tabor.

East will compete in the 3A NPC next fall, although Hinson cautions Mustang supporters the drop in classification won’t be a cure-all.

“The CPC is a top-heavy league — Davie, Mount Tabor, West Forsyth,” he said. “But in the NPC, you’ve obviously got West Rowan. You’ve got Northwest Cabarrus, and they went to the fourth round of the playoffs. West Iredell and North Iredell are on the rise. Mooresville should be on the rebound next season. Statesville won’t stay down with the athletes they have.”

In other words, East has to get better if it hopes to finish in the top half of the revised 10-team NPC in 2007.

“Kids follow coaches, and we have to develop a new attitude,” Hinson said. “We’ve got to be more physical. We’ve got to get tougher and more determined.”

Hinson was toughened as a kid by being smacked around by three older brothers. He’s awaremore lumps may be coming his way.

“People ask me if I’m ready for this, and the textbook answer is yes,” he said. “At the same time, I know I’ve still got things to learn.”

Roberts hopes Hinson will be a quick study and his team proves East can still be a factor in football.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Roberts said. “When Brian was introduced to the players, you could’ve heard a pin drop. They respect him. Everyone listened to what he had to say.”


Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or mlondon@salisburypost.com.