Sidelines full of new faces in WNC football

Sidelines full of new faces in WNC football


Sidelines full of new faces in WNC football


Carrying out the search for a football coach in July means that time is among the many things not on Tuscola’s side.

Teams throughout Western North Carolina are well into their summer workouts by now. And the official start of practice (Aug. 1) is less than a month away.

Tuscola athletic director Rodney Mashburn was still resolute earlier this week that the Haywood County school would find the right person no matter how long it look.

After all, the Mountaineers haven’t been the only ones looking.

Thirty-one high schools in WNC field football teams, and at least eight of them will have someone new on the sidelines this fall.

Hendersonville announced Monday that assistant Eric Gash would replace B.J. Laughter, the same day that former Tuscola coach Brandon Allen officially left the Mountaineers for the job at Morganton Freedom.

The NCHSAA is currently in the middle of a weeklong “dead period” which prohibits coaches from working with their athletes. It ends Sunday.

“I’m excited to get things rolling,” Gash said.

“B.J. has done such a great job, absolutely. And now I’m ready to hit the ground running and get to work with the kids.”

Gash, 44, graduated from Hendersonville in 1998 and went on to play in the NFL just like his brother, Sam, who is presently the running backs coach for the Green Bay Packers.

“We grew up watching (former Hendersonville coach Phil Brintnall) mow the game field and the practice field,” Gash said.

“I spoke to Sam (Friday) morning and he was really excited about this opportunity for me. He said the first thing we wants to do when he gets back in town is cut that game field.”

Laughter is relinquishing control of the Bearcats football program to become their assistant principal/athletic director. He won 141 games in 17 years, and had the second-longest tenure of any football coach in WNC. Murphy’s David Gentry has been at his school since 1983 and won an area-record 346 games.

“I’m a big guy about praying and it just seemed like everything kind of lined up to make this happen,” Laughter said.

“It was the right time for me and my family. It’s a big, new challenge. Eric Gash and I have been friends since kindergarten. We’re lifelong friends and he’s a quality person. He’s a Bearcat.”

The rest of the new coaches in WNC are at Cherokee (Kent Briggs), East Henderson (Mac MacMillan), Hayesville (Mitch Myers), Mitchell (Travise Pittman), Polk County (Jamie Thompson) and Roberson (Chris Deal).

Briggs was formerly the head coach at Western Carolina University, compiling a 22-43 record between 2002 and 2007. Last year at this time, MacMillan was the offensive line coach at Mars Hill University, a position that is now occupied by former Roberson coach Jim Beatty.

Applicants for the vacant Tuscola job are asked to contact Principal Travis Collins at


At least eight different Western North Carolina high schools will have new football coaches for the 2014 season:

Cherokee: Kent Briggs

East Henderson: Mac MacMillan

Hayesville: Mitch Myers

Hendersonville: Eric Gash

Mitchell: Travise Pittman

Polk County: Jamie Thompson

Roberson: Chris Deal

Tuscola: TBA


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