When Concord football coach George Kosanovich announced his retirement last month, he said if he had any input on his successor it would be longtime assistant coach Greg Mitchell.
Kosanovich’s wish came true this week, as Concord athletic director Debbie Corrado announced that Mitchell will become the Raiders’ first new football coach since 1983.
“It was a natural. We feel like he’s been the assistant head football coach for so long,” Corrado said. “He’s been George’s right-hand man.”
Mitchell graduated from Concord in 1981, two years before Kosanovich took over as coach. He has served as an assistant coach at the school since 1992 and has been the Raiders’ offensive coordinator for the last four seasons.
“I hoped it would happen once [Kosanovich] retired, but we never knew when he was going to retire so it didn’t really matter,” Mitchell said. “I was just always happy to work with him. He’s a friend and a mentor.”
It comes as no surprise that Mitchell plans to stick with the wing-T offense and 5-2 defense that have served the Raiders so well over the years.
“Offensively, we’re not going to change much,” Mitchell said. “We’re just going to add to what we do. And defensively, I don’t see much change either. We’ve kind of had a good recipe for success.”
Kosanovich, 69, is third on the state’s all-time wins list with a 255-159-11 record. He led Concord to Division II state championships in 2003, 2004 and 2006, and three of his former players are currently in the NFL – Montell Owens (Lions), Paul Worrilow (Falcons) and Justin Brown (Steelers). But Mitchell feels right at home in taking over.
“I think I would [feel pressure] if I was a new guy coming in,” Mitchell said. “But being here for this long, we were in this thing together. … If anything, I just feel the pressure to continue the good things that he did.”
Mitchell’s mentor was delighted to hear the news.
“Greg could have gone other places and got [head coaching] jobs easily,” Kosanovich said. “But he stayed, and he was as loyal as a person could possibly be. We’ve been more like a family there. I feel very confident that he’s going to do a great job.”
Mitchell, 50, also has served as a guidance counselor at Concord for the last 12 years. There is no place he would rather be.
“Early in my career, I thought about maybe making a move,” Mitchell said. “But when you weigh the whole package, who you work with and the school itself, it’s just a good place to be. So I feel really good that I’ve been able to stay there, because not everybody can do that.”
But there will be one change. Kosanovich was famous for wearing shorts during every practice and game, no matter the weather.
“That’s one thing I can’t guarantee, shorts in December,” Mitchell said with a laugh. “I can’t do that. That’s his trademark. That’s going to be his legacy.”