Prep Football: Salisbury's Adkins takes East Wilkes job
By Ronnie Gallagher
SALISBURY — The best football team in the Mountain Valley 1A/2A conference last season was Starmount.
The Rams were undefeated going into the second round of the playoffs but were crushed 35-7 on their homefield by Salisbury and its vaunted wishbone.
If the Rams were having nightmares about stopping the option, they better wake up. They’re going to see a piece of the wishbone from now on.
Salisbury assistant J.K. Adkins has taken the head coaching job at East Wilkes, a team that has been a perennial 3-to-4-win club over the past decade.
Adkins thinks he can do the same thing Joe Pinyan did at Salisbury: turn a losing program into a winner.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” said Adkins, “but it can be done. If you do what you’re supposed to in the weight room, you can be competitive.”
For a 33-year-old, Adkins has been a busy man. This will be his third head coaching stop.
After playing at Morganton Freedom, he began his coaching career as a Watauga assistant. Then he went to Mooresville, where he hooked up with Pinyan. When Pinyan took the Salisbury job in 2003, he brought Adkins with him.
Adkins was impressive enough to earn his first head job at South Iredell, a school on a 24-game losing streak. Adkins won five games his first year and took the Vikings to the third round of the playoffs the next.
He started the program at Patton before returning to Salisbury.
“I wasn’t looking for a job,” Adkins said. “I was very content.”
He ran into East Wilkes assistant principal and defensive coordinator Doug Faulkner about the Cardinals’ opening. After visiting the school and meeting with parents and players, the move to the small town of Ronda was too good to turn down.
“I felt it was a place we could get it done,” Adkins said. “From what I hear, they pack their stadium every Friday night. I think the community would go nuts if it had a consistent winner.”
The Cardinals haven’t had that since the days of legend Luke Samples, who became a star quarterback at Catawba. In fact, the participation has been way, way down. Adkins said East Wilkes had about 24 players on the roster at the end of last season’s 3-8 campaign.
“They have kids at that school who aren’t playing,” Adkins said. “There are some wrestling types and basketball types, who, if we can get them out, would make a huge difference.”
Adkins will be the strength and conditioning coach at East and will be in the weight room all day.
“Which was very appealing,” Adkins said.
It will be hard to leave his friends at Salisbury, especially head coach Joe Pinyan. But he said Pinyan was very supportive.
“I think Joe wants his assistants to have that desire to be a head coach,” Adkins said. “I hope I did a good job for him.”
One bright spot in Ronda is the group of future Cardinals. The last two middle school teams were strong.
“They have the potential to be good,” Adkins said. “We just have to put the pieces of the puzzle together.”
Adkins knows Starmount and Wilkes Central are usually the class of the league. And they’ll now see an offense that helped the Hornets to a 2010 2AA state championship and several deep playoff runs while he was on the staff.
“We’ll run a little option, formation you to death, get angles and play fast” Adkins said.
Starmount remembers. Now, the Rams can pass it on to their Mountain Valley neighbors.
NOTES: Adkins replaces Monte Chipman. … Adkins is the third Rowan County coach in new positions. West assistant Joe Nixon is North Rowan’s new coach and Danny Misenheimer took over at his alma mater at East Rowan. … Mark Hoover, the former Central Davidson head coach, is expected to join Pinyan’s staff later this month.