By Eric Lusk Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Elkin High didnt have to look far to find its next head football coach.
The Buckin Elks tapped one of their own to replace the legendary Richard Grissom, picking Scott Wood, an assistant coach and math teacher at Elkin the past nine years.
Principal Mark Byrd made the announcement Thursday afternoon, hinting that the search never really needed to go beyond the locker room of a program that has won four state titles in football this decade.
Wood was an assistant coach for all four of those teams, serving as an offensive coach and offensive line specialist since arriving at Elkin in 2001.
We felt comfortable that we didnt need to look outside based on the quality of the coaching staff we had in place, Byrd said. We know what kind of person coach Wood is and his background. Hes been with us nine years now, so we have a full understanding of what he can do.
The Elkin City Schools board of education must still approve the hiring. Dr. Randy Bledsoe, superintendent, will carry a recommendation from Byrd to the next board meeting on April 19.
Our board is very supportive of Scott, Bledsoe said. Weve got great people in place. Opportunities come and you reward those people who have continued to help you through those years.
Its going to be tremendous, not only for our kids but for the parents and this community. Scott is a great teacher.
I think weve got the diamond that we needed.
Wood played at North Wilkes and later was a standout for Catawba College, earning All-America status from one publication after his senior season. He served as an assistant coach at Forbush, then took over the North Wilkes football program as head coach from 1997-2000.
Wood said he doesnt plan to change too much with Elkins program now that he is the man in charge.
In 2001, we pretty much put in the offense, he said. We blended what they were doing with what I wanted to do. Coach Grissom and I just came together, and its been a pretty good fit. I dont think its broken, so were not going to fix much. Defensively, I think weve got a good system in place, too.
The rest of the football staff should remain in place for the 2010 season, he said.
Ive been in the community for nine years and pretty much just fell in love with it the support, the kids, the coaching staff. Its a great place to be, Wood said. I moved my kids down here last year. I think they get a great education here, and this community is very supportive of the school and its athletic program.
Wood said he knew he had landed someplace special during a 2002 state playoff game at Hobbton, which is more than three hours away.
They took like three charter busses to go down there with us, he said. When we came onto the field for warm-ups the stands were full, even an hour and a half before the game. They were yelling and screaming. Its one of the most supportive communities Ive ever been around.
While Grissom was known for his demonstrative demeanor on the field, Wood seems much more soft-spoken. He had to be pried by Principal Byrd to talk about his college football honors, including the All-America recognition.
Wood said some of the biggest things he takes from his former mentor, aside from football Xs and Os, are work ethic and consistency.
I think that was his greatest asset, Wood said. He was very consistent in practice. They practiced at a high level and played at a high level. Thats the same way were going to go with it.
Wood said he planned to meet with players soon and get plans arranged with his staff for the spring and summer. He and Grissom talk often and likely will continue to do so in the coming weeks and months.
Grissom served as the Buckin Elks head coach from 1987 to 2009. He announced his retirement from coaching a few weeks ago. Grissom played on Elkins first state championship team in 1967. The Buckin Elks won N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A championships in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006.
Last years Elkin team finished 11-3, falling to Robbinsville in the third round of the 1A playoffs.
While Wood returns a healthy stable of players from the 2009 squad, Elkin will have to replace some key linemen and defensive backs, he said.
Were just going to take the kids who come to us and try to make them the best they can be, he said.
Wood knows the giant shoes hes trying to fill but didnt talk much about that Thursday. He preferred to keep the focus on the kids and the program.
His hiring as head football coach seemed to draw a favorable response as the news got around within the community and the Web.
Andrew Millaway, who graduated from Elkin in 2008 and has kept stats for the program the past four years, said he believes players will welcome the selection. What could have been a difficult transition will be much easier because the school looked within for its next coach.
I think that it is the best possible choice, said Millaway, who also contributes to The Tribune sports pages as well as the NCPreps.com Web site. It will be the easiest for the players too, because there will be little or no change in things.
It is easy for the other coaches because they wont have to learn a totally new system. A lot of things will be the same. Scott knows the program. He has been a big part of the programs success over the years. I think he will do just fine.
Elkin athletic director Tony Duncan has worked alongside Wood as an assistant football coach. He said he felt great about the decision and glad that the Buckin Elks got someone in place so quickly.
Hes been with a great mentor for the last nine years and we felt like hes very prepared and definitely has been an asset to the program since hes been here, Duncan said. For us, it was a pretty easy choice. He can start leaving his stamp on things right now.