HENDERSONVILLE- North Henderson’s new football coach is a self-described “North Carolina guy.”
And that’s a testament to the Tar Heel state.
Because former Western Carolina University quarterback Justin Clark has been an assistant coach at Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina high schools since his college graduation in 2007. Clark had been on the staff at Gaffney (S.C.) since 2014.
He was on campus Monday in Henderson County as the Knights announced the hire. This is the first head-coaching job at any level for Clark, 31, who was a three-year starter for the Catamounts.
“I’m extremely honored and excited to be the head football coach at North Henderson. It’s a great fit for myself and my family,” Clark said.
“I’ve been here for the better part of the morning and just getting introduced to the staff and teachers has been great. I’m excited to get the ball rolling here and build on what (former North Henderson coach J.D. Dinwiddie) has done. At the same time, I want to put my own stamp on it. I’m a North Carolina guy. And it means a lot to come back closer to Western which will always have a good place in my heart.”
Here is the announcement that was sent out by North Henderson athletic director John McDaris:
February 20, 2016
The administration of North Henderson High School is pleased to announce Justin Clark as the new head football coach for the Knights. Clark comes to the Knights from Gaffney High School in South Carolina.
Coach Clark brings an extensive knowledge of all phases of football to the Knights, including effective team building and strategic planning. He played football for Western Carolina University where he was a three-year starter and the last quarterback to lead the Catamounts to a win over Appalachian State University. He has served as an offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for eight seasons. Under his guidance five quarterbacks have gone on to be selected for their respective All-State teams and have played at the collegiate level, one of which currently plays in the NFL. His leadership has produced 28 All-Region players, 20 offensive collegiate signees, 6 All-State players, and 6 South Carolina Shrine Bowl participants.
Joining Coach Clark as new members of the North Henderson family will be his wife, Mary Johnson Clark, and his newborn daughter Emma Grace Clark.
North Henderson High School
Dinwiddie left to become Roberson’s coach on Jan. 20. He compiled a 15-30 record in four seasons at North Henderson, including a 7-5 mark last year. That was the first winning season for the Knights since 2000.
Clark played high school football for North Gaston (he was the 2001 Gaston Gazette player of the year) and later coached there. Clark was on the sidelines for the memorable 2007 game between the Wildcats and Asheville High — a 35-34 road win for North Gaston in the 3-A Western Regional championship game. Clark went on to coach at Boiling Springs (S.C.), North View (Ga.) and then Gaffney.
Clark said the Knights will be an up-tempo spread offense team under his watch. He is still waiting to see his personnel before committing to a defensive scheme.
Five of the quarterbacks that Clark has coached have gone on to be named to their respective all-state teams.
North Henderson is now the fifth Western North Carolina football program to hire a new head coach for the 2016 season along with Hayesville (Kenneth Dockery), McDowell (Andy Morgan), Roberson (Dinwiddie) and Smoky Mountain (Chris Brookshire).
Asheville High has not yet replaced Danny Wilkins who retired in late-November.