SKYLAND – Roberson’s new football coach is a guy who likes to tackle challenges head-on.
Jason Dinwiddie first came to Western North Carolina in 2012 from Raleigh Wakefield, which has an enrollment of close to 2,200 students.
Dinwiddie went on to compile a 15-30 record in four seasons at North Henderson, including a 7-5 mark in 2015. Notably, that was the first winning season for the Knights since 2000. North Henderson’s season opener was a 14-7 nonconference win at Roberson on Aug. 21.
That bears mention because Dinwiddie wanted to change the culture at North Henderson and now he wants to change the culture at Roberson.
Rams players got to meet their new coach for the first time Wednesday morning in a coaching swap between two nearby Western North Carolina schools.
“It is bittersweet,” Dinwiddie said.
“There isn’t enough I can say about our staff, the kids or the administration at North Henderson. I only have great things to say. I came here wanting to challenge myself by coming to a small town that hadn’t had a tradition of success. Now it’s time for the next challenge and there is a lot of potential at (Roberson). But right now, it’s all potential.”
Next season will be the 20th in coaching for Dinwiddie, 39. He is known to his family and friends as “J.D.”
“We could not be more excited to hire someone of coach Dinwiddie’s caliber,” Rams athletic director Laura Beatty said. “We’re confident in his ability to lead our football program to success.”
Dinwiddie replaces Chris Deal, who resigned earlier this month after going 8-16 in two seasons with the Rams.
Dinwiddie has his work cut out for him.
The Rams will graduate 19 seniors off of last year’s 3-9 team. Deal’s son, freshman Luke Deal, has transferred to Emerald (S.C.) after starting the last five games at quarterback for the Rams last fall. Leading tackler Seth Griswold has transferred to Christ School. He has 424 career tackles, 162 of which occurred in 2015.
Roberson has not won a state playoff game since 2007.
North Henderson athletic director John McDaris said in a press release that his school is immediately looking for coaching candidates.
“The administration of North Henderson High School is now accepting applications from qualified individuals for the position of head varsity football coach,” McDaris wrote.
“The staff and administration would like to thank Jason Dinwiddie for all of his hard work with the students and athletes at North Henderson during his time as head football coach. North Henderson prides itself in hard work, integrity, and a commitment to student-athletes. The North football program is looking forward to building upon the strong success of the previous season.”
Along with Roberson, Hayesville (Kenneth Dockery) and Smoky Mountain (Chris Brookshire) have hired new coaches since the 2015 season ended in December. Like North Henderson, Asheville High and McDowell presently have vacancies following the retirements of former Cougars coach Danny Wilkins and former Titans coach Carson McGowan.