High school football: After 5 seasons at West, Nixon takes Mooresville job

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 13, 2020

By Mike London

(See Thursday’s edition for a full story on Joe Nixon)

One of the top coaches in recent Rowan County football history was announced as the new head coach at Mooresville on Tuesday.

Joe Nixon came to Catawba College from Clayton in 1999 and became a fixture on the offensive line as the Indians’ right tackle. Nixon made the progression at Catawba from redshirt, to redshirt freshman backup, to sophomore starter, to second team All-South Atlantic Conference junior, to team leader and All-SAC first team pick as a senior.

Nixon joined coach Scott Young’s staff at West Rowan and was instrumental in a powerful period of overwhelming success that included 46 straight victories and 3A state championships seasons in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Nixon’s first head coaching opportunity came at North Rowan. He coached the Cavaliers from 2012-14, with records of 8-4, 13-1 and 10-3. North Rowan was ranked No. 1 in 2A for a number of weeks in 2013, but an undefeated season ended with a home loss to Shelby in the third round of the playoffs. North won Central Carolina Conference championships in 2013 and 2014. Nixon was 31-8 in three seasons with the Cavaliers.

Nixon became West Rowan’s head coach in 2015, and while the Falcons weren’t able to bring back the greatness of the state championship years, they were pretty good or very good every year, while playing challenging schedules. They were usually Rowan County’s strongest team — they didn’t lose to a county opponent during Nixon’s tenure. They were often a tough out in the state playoffs.

West was 10-4, 10-4, 6-6, 6-6 and 9-5 in Nixon’s five seasons. Three of those teams reached the third round, although none could get past it. Last fall, West posted impressive playoff victories against Freedom and Crest, before being eliminated by eventual state champ Charlotte Catholic. Nixon was 41-25 at West, bringing his career record as a head coach to 72-33.

Nixon will replace Thad Wells at Mooresville. Wells resigned after two seasons to return to his alma mater, Richlands High, in Virginia.

Mooresville had a 7-6 record in 2019 and was 9-4 in 2018.

Mooresville competes in the I-Meck 4A Conference, which includes Mallard Creek, Vance, Hough, Hopewell, Lake Norman, North Mecklenburg  and West Charlotte. It is considered by many to be the state’s toughest football league.

Mooresville and West Rowan are only 14 miles apart, and they traditionally play each other on opening night.