MURPHY – Murphy football coach David Gentry might already be doing his Christmas shopping for next year.
Out of necessity, you understand. Gentry is hoping to be a very busy man when December 2016 rolls around.
He has been selected as North Carolina’s next head coach for the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.
The last time Gentry coached in the annual all-star game between North Carolina and South Carolina seniors — as an assistant in 1994 — was on the tail end of a regional-championship season. And obviously that kind of playoff run is the goal next year for the Bulldogs and every other statewide team.
“It’s just very gratifying,” Gentry said Monday.
“Not many coaches get this opportunity and it’s the ultimate (in North Carolina coaching). I’ve been in it long enough and fortunate enough to receive a lot of honors. I knew they usually don’t bring you back twice as an assistant, so I was pretty happy when I got the call. Hard work reaps rewards is what you always tell your players. I know how big this is for not only Murphy, but Western North Carolina. It’s going to be a great experience. I’ve got a good staff, spread all the way out to James Kenan (a coastal-area school) and we’re going to try and pick the best players. I’m really looking forward to the whole process.”
It has been 17, soon to be 18 years since a local coach headed up the North Carolina Shrine Bowl team (Reynolds’ Bobby Poss in 1998).
Gentry is far and away the winningest football coach in WNC history with 375 career victories. The former record was 301. Gentry, 69, has been the Bulldogs’ coach since 1983 and has won 310 games and six state championships (1986,1987,1991,1996, 2011 and 2013) during that time in Cherokee County.
Murphy named its field for Gentry in 2013. He was born in Asheville and got his start as a head coach at Henderson County’s Edneyville High.
“We are just so proud of coach Gentry who is not only a great coach but a great person,” Cherokee County Schools Superintendent Jeana Conley said.
“It means a great deal to our county for him to represent us and he is very deserving. We are thrilled to share coach Gentry with the rest of the state.”
Murphy went 10-4 this past season and was the third-place team in the Smoky Mountain Conference. Shannon Wilson, Kadrian McRae, Adam Powell, Ozzy Corrales, Alex Seabolt and Matthew Lovingood were named to the All-SMC team.
Powell was a first-team selection on the Citizen-Times All-WNC team after making 118 tackles (15 for a loss) and five sacks. He forced two fumbles and recovered one.
The Shrine Bowl is played each year in Spartanburg, S.C. The Tar Heels won the latest installment (54-39 on Dec. 19).
Asheville High’s Pete Leota and Reynolds’ Rico Dowdle were WNC representatives as players, while Asheville’s Charlie Metcalf was part of the North Carolina coaching staff.
Gentry’s coaching lineup for 2016 includes Pat Moser (Orange), Kevin Gellespre (Greensboro Page), David Lovette (Grays Creek), Ken Avent (James Kenan), Steve Breitenstein (Watauga) and Tim Carson (Weddington).
Gentry said Monday that he is already formulating a plan for next year’s game, which includes picking the brain of North Carolina coach John Kirby (Eastern Alamance). The Tar Heels’ Shrine Bowl win under Kirby was their first in four years.
However, Gentry will be slowed this offseason by what he described as “a major foot operation” which has yet to be performed.
The 2016 Shrine Bowl is scheduled for Dec. 17 at Wofford College.