High school football: Hinson steps down

Published 10:27 pm Tuesday, April 26, 2022

By Mike London

SALISBURY — Brian Hinson stepped down as Salisbury’s head football coach — an announcement that stunned the local football world.

Hinson led the restoration of the Hornets’ program to statewide prominence in recent years with two regional championships (one East, one West), a state runner-up finish and a state championship in the COVID-delayed 2021 spring season.

When the Central Carolina Conference champion Hornets went 11-1 in the 2021 fall season, with a third-round road playoff loss, it was actually seen as a disappointing season by some, but that’s just a testament to how strong the program has become.  In the fall of 2021, the Hornets scored 53 points per game, while allowing 5.4 per game. Statistically, they were the most overwhelming team in modern Rowan County history. They posted eight shutouts and scored 60-plus points five times.

Beyond the numbers, it’s been one of the most challenging times in history to wear the responsibility of head football coach, especially with AD duties thrown in. Following COVID guidelines and adhering to a long list of restrictions was draining and time-consuming, and North Carolina high school programs were tasked with playing two seasons just a few months apart in the calendar year of 2021.

Every football coach is feeling some energy loss right now and perhaps not feeling that adrenaline rush that they hope to feel.

Hinson was no exception.

With preparations for the 2022 season approaching — that includes workouts, conditioning and planning for summer camps — Hinson felt it was the right time to step aside so that a new head coach can either be appointed or hired to replace him.

Family is everything to Hinson, and every football coach can tell you that they missed many months of their children’s lives that they’ll never get back. Coaching a competitive program is 24/7 and close to 365.

The job of football coaches as far as getting young athletes on the right path in life, giving them at least a chance to be successful, is always more important than wins and losses. Hinson always got high marks from players, parents and administrators in that regard.

There’s no scoreboard to show it, but there’s no doubt that he’s saved dozens. Maybe hundreds.

Raised in Montgomery County, Hinson starred as an offensive lineman in one of Catawba’s greatest football eras.  A recent addition to the Catawba Sports Hall of Fame, he was an All-American in 1998 and 1999.

His first head coaching opportunity came at East Rowan for the 2007-09 football seasons. His teams were 17-19. One of those years was 1-10, so the Mustangs were very good in the other two.

He moved on to Catawba as offensive line coach for a number of years, but he opted to return to the high school ranks at Salisbury prior to the 2017 season. After experiencing both college and high school coaching, he believed he could make a greater impact on high school athletes.

Salisbury generally has exceptional athletes, but winning there isn’t automatic.

Salisbury was 11-35 in the four seasons before Hinson was hired. Hinson was 47-15 in five seasons with the Hornets.

He stands 13th on the Rowan County coaching wins list with 64. His winning percentage of .653 ranks much higher than 13th.

He was only CCC Coach of the Year once, but he was the Post’s Rowan County Coach of the Year or Co-Coach of the Year five times, including the last three football seasons.

Hinson confirmed that he is continuing with AD duties.

There’s probably more to come as far as his coaching journey, but only time will tell. At 45, he has a lot of football left in him. He’ll get those batteries recharged. and  a door will open for him. Football needs him, even more than he needs football.

“We shall see what God’s plan is,” Hinson said. “I have peace.”

Salisbury will lose a lot of talent to graduation, but the Hornets  should still have another excellent team this fall, no matter who is at the helm.

Electrifying quarterback Mike Geter is a sophomore. Junior JyMikaah Wells is on the verge of breaking school rushing records. Sophomore athlete Deuce Walker is already attracting Division I offers.