Watford introduced at Bertie

Published 3:25 pm Friday, May 7, 2010

WINDSOR – He could have been hired instead of the late Roy Bond.

Now, he’s been brought in to restore the legacy created by the two-time state champion coach.

Greg Watford was officially introduced Tuesday afternoon as the newest Head Football Coach at Bertie High School, 18 years after originally applying for the post.

“They made the right decision then,” Watford mused. “I realize now how unready I was for it then. Roy is a legend. I believe I bring quite a bite more to the table now.

“Also, this is very special because Coach Bond and I became good football friends,” he added. “It’s going to be special to be able to coach in a stadium named in his honor.”

Watford was the Falcon’s choice to replace Tony Hoggard, who resigned in December to continue his career in educational administration. Hoggard served in the dual role of Assistant Principal and Head Football Coach in 2009 and said it took too much time from his family.

A four-month search process led the Falcons to Watford, an 18-year veteran Head Coach who was serving at Northampton County High School – East.

“When I came here it took me about two and a half days to realize Bertie is a football community,” Bertie Superintendent of Schools Dr. Chip Zullinger said during his introduction of Watford. “We eat, sleep and live football. We have great athletes who are great kids.

“We went looking for an experienced football coach who could restore this program,” Dr. Zullinger said. “I know we’ve found our man.”

Watford told those gathered at the press conference that he was very much aware of the tradition of Bertie High School, having grown up in neighboring Hertford County.

“I’m obviously honored to be a part of this tradition,” he said.

Turning to the football players who had come into the room, Watford told them he would work for them and wanted them to work for themselves.

“To the young men in the back, I promise you no one will work harder for you than I will,” he said. “I only ask that you work just as hard.”

Bertie STEM School Principal G. Fisher Mitchell spoke on behalf of the four high school principals in Bertie County. He welcomed Watford and jokingly told him to stop by Wal-Mart in Hertford County wearing his new Bertie Football hat.

“You can wear this hat for the first time in public today,” Mitchell laughed.

After the conference, Bertie High School Athletic Director Marvin Rankins also said he was pleased to have Watford on staff.

“I’m excited about it,” Rankins said. “He’ll do an outstanding job for us. He’ll get this program turned around and make us a winner.”

Rankins said he had known Watford for many years and that he knew the new coach was a hard-worker and a winner.

In an interview after his introduction, Watford said he was excited by several aspects of the Bertie High School football job.

“Tradition. Athletes. Family atmosphere,” he said. “I’ve been made to feel so welcome since the moment I arrived.

“Whatever profession you are in, you strive to reach the pinnacle of it,” he added. “It’s exciting to have the chance to be in a program that looks at winning and competing for state championships as the norm.”

Watford said he had enjoyed meeting the administration, teachers, football coaching staff and student-athletes.

“They’ve made it clear this is a place where we intend to compete at the highest level in everything we do – the classroom, the football field, the basketball court, the softball field, wherever it is,” Watford said. “That’s something that is exciting to be a part of.”

Watford said he was also pleased to have a strong assistant coaching staff including Rankins, Robert Brown, Randy Whitaker, Grantley Mizelle, Calvin Hayes and others.

“I’ve known Coach Rankins for a long time,” Watford said. “He’s a first-class guy. He does things the right way.

“Coach Rankins, Coach Whitaker and some of these guys have been here a long time,” he added. “They are part of this tradition. I’ll be looking to them not only for support, but for guidance in linking to the tradition that was established many years ago.”

In addition to coaching at Northampton-East, Watford served as Head Football Coach at Hertford County High, West Carteret High, Southern Vance High and Southeast Halifax High.

It’s his service with the Bears that has gotten the most attention since he was announced as Bertie’s choice as head coach. That is something Watford’s aware of.

“My job is to coach football,” he said. “When you’re in coaching, you’re in the business of preparing young men to be the best they can in the classroom, on the football field and in life. That doesn’t change from here to Hertford County or from Hertford County to here.

“The fact that I was at Hertford County will be interesting to some people,” he added. “To me, this is just a chance to be part of another great program.”

The focus Watford currently has is returning Bertie to greatness, something he says won’t take as long as some people think.

“Athletically, we’re on par with any of the top programs in the state,” he said. “This is not a rebuilding job. We’re only one year removed from a conference championship.

“We are looking to get back to where Coach Bond and Coach Hoggard and those guys had it,” he said. “We’re going to build on that.”