WEDDINGTON – On the first Sunday of the new year, Andy Capone went off the grid. No phone calls, text messages or emails.
The Weddington High offensive coordinator knew that phone calls, text messages and emails were about to come flooding in.
It was on that Sunday that Weddington High sent out a text message to the school’s football players and coaches to meet the following morning. The text meant one thing – Weddington had hired a new head football coach and the Warriors’ football players knew that Capone had interviewed for the job.
Capone was the players’ favorite.
Two days earlier, Capone was told he was going to be the man to replace Tim Carson at the helm of one of the best Class 3A football programs in the state. But Capone was instructed to keep it quiet.
Capone, with the exception of telling his parents, kept silent until the 26-year-old was officially introduced as the Warriors’ new head football coach the next day.
Carson, who will retire from North Carolina on Jan. 31 and become the head coach at West-Oak High in Westminster, S.C., which is near his hometown, was the Warriors’ head coach for seven seasons. He was 75-23 at Weddington where he won three Southern Carolina Conference championships and the 2016 Class 3AA State Championship.
Capone knows he has big shoes to fill but he is ready for the challenge. Weddington had just four seniors on a team that finished 10-4 overall and advanced to the third round of the Class 3A playoffs last fall.
“This is where I want to be,” Capone said. “I love these kids, I love the program and I love this community. I want to continue to build on what Coach Carson has brought to Weddington. I feel blessed and I am excited.”
Capone, who was a quarterback at Sun Valley, said he knew back in high school that he wanted to get into coaching. He credits former Sun Valley head coach Scott Stein and Carson with helping put him on the path to coaching and teaching.
“They kind of changed my life,” Capone said. “I have known Coach Carson for half my life, and it is going to be hard to say goodbye. But I’m happy for him and his family. We have talked about getting a scrimmage halfway, and I think the kids would really enjoy that. Or maybe a 7-on-7.”
James Shipley, who will be a senior this fall, said he expected to hear Capone’s name called when the new coach was announced on Jan. 8.
“I was hoping it was Coach Capone because I didn’t think they would be able to name another coach that fast,” Shipley said. “We were all excited, he is awesome and he has been a big part of our lives so far and a big part of our success. We are excited for a smooth transition. He is an incredible coach and he has already done some great things for this program.”
The position attracted intense interest but Principal Jay Jones said all roads led back to Capone.
“After an extensive search and interview process, the selection committee unanimously identified Andy Capone as the top candidate to lead the Weddington High School football program,” Jones said. “I’m confident that Andy will be successful with the charge that he’s been given to ensure that the Weddington High School football program embodies the mission of our school to move our young people toward their full mental, physical, and social potential. The future is bright for Weddington football, and Coach Capone is a critical factor behind that optimism.”
Weddington is well poised to make another deep run in the postseason as all of the Warriors’ top offensive weapons return. Quarterback Whitner Litton will be back for his senior season after completing 195-of-334 passes for 3,117 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Rising senior receiver Max Brimigion caught 60 passes for 1,366 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior. Shipley had 59 catches for 622 yards while his younger brother, Will, rushed for 690 yards while recording 424 yards receiving as a freshman last season.
Capone said he plans to call the offensive plays this fall.
“I’m going to try and do the offense this year,” Capone said. “I don’t want to give it up. I love it too much.”