Pirates' Neuendorf replacing a legend
Greg Neuendorf has some big shoes to fill as the new head football coach at Porter Ridge High.
Neuendorf is taking over for Blair Hardin, who guided the Pirates to a 50-18 record in five seasons.
Porter Ridge played for the 4A state title each of the last two years and was at least co-champions of the Southern Carolina Conference from 2009-12.
Neuendorf says he's up for the challenge.
"The kids are the ones that make the plays, so the most important people are still there," said Neuendorf. "It's just the coaches that will be different. Hopefully only a few of those are changing."
Neuendorf comes to Porter Ridge after serving the same position at Cox Mill for the last four seasons, compiling a 22-25 record during that stretch.
Neuendorf had been at Cox Mill since the school opened in 2009, but couldn't pass up the opportunity to coach at Porter Ridge.
"It's rare in the coaching business that you get to take over a healthy, thriving program that's headed in the right direction," said Neuendorf. "Nine times out of 10 most jobs come open with a program struggling. The run Porter Ridge has had the last two years is really second to none in the state. Those opportunities don't come around very often."
Neuendorf met with the players for the first time on Wednesday and said he hopes to get started with summer workouts next week.
The Pirates open the 2013 season at home against Mount Tabor on Aug. 23, marking just 75 days until kickoff.
"We're going to try and keep things as similar as possible for the kids," said Neuendorf. "My biggest challenge is to make them feel it's the same with the terminology and practice schedule and all those kind of things. They just have to focus on getting better at football. If they feel comfortable and ready to go, that's the most important part."
The Pirates, who played in a 3A/4A conference the last four years, are joining a reclassified 4A league starting in 2013-14.
The new conference includes Butler, Independence, East Meck, Rocky River, Myers Park and Garinger.
"For me we never played very many Charlotte schools at Cox Mill," said Neuendorf. "When you look at the teams it's a very difficult league to compete in with a lot of great players and coaches, but as I talk to our players I think they're excited about it. They really feel like they can compete in that league and they're looking forward to the opportunity to show that they can do that."
High school football practice begins on Aug. 1.
Porter Ridge is eligible to return four all-conference players, including seniors Jerrick Robbins, Luke Bayly, Devyn Cunningham and Nick Vagnone.
Robbins was the SCC's specialist of the year in 2012.
"I'm very excited and anxious to get started," said Neuendorf. "I've been going through the roster, looking at film and talking to returning coaches. We're ready to hit the ground running."
Porter Ridge's 2013
Aug. 23 Mount Tabor
Aug. 30 at Piedmont
Sept. 6 Providence
Sept. 13 at South Meck
Sept. 20 at Sun Valley
Sept. 27 OPEN
Oct. 4 Independence
Oct. 11 at Garinger
Oct. 18 Myers Park
Oct. 25 at Butler
Nov. 1 at East Meck
Nov. 8 Rocky River