Back in Blue

Published 9:41 am Tuesday, February 9, 2016

WINDSOR – With his family members proudly seated in the front row, Grantley Mizelle came home.

The former assistant football coach was formally introduced Monday afternoon as the newest head coach of the Bertie High School Falcons.

From a list of 41 original candidates down to the final four that were called back for second interviews, a screening committee made up of students, teachers, community representatives, and business people, made their final selection last week and a native son returned to his roots.

“I’m back in Blue,” Mizelle proudly declared as he donned a royal blue Bertie baseball cap.

Grantley Mizelle Bertie coach

Grantley Mizelle
Bertie coach

“We wanted community input for what we knew was about to take place with the new football coach here in Bertie County,” said interim BHS principal Calvin Moore. “

Mizelle worked at Bertie Middle School from 2008-20014 when he left the county to take over as head football coach at South Creek High in Martin County (Robersonville). More importantly, the Lawrence Academy grad began his gridiron coaching career first at his alma mater, and later as an assistant with the Falcons before becoming head coach at BMS.

“I call this getting things right,” Moore continued. “We’re going to have a proud program with development in the classroom as well as on the field because Bertie football means a lot to a lot of people.

Superintendent Elaine White along with Falcon athletic director Randy Whitaker introduced Mizelle.

“We are very, very happy to have you back,” said White. “I know you are going to serve us well. He told me we have talent here at Bertie and that he is going to develop that talent, going back to the years when Bertie went to championships and came back with wins.”

“I know he’s the one for the job,” said Whitaker.

After a round of hearty applause from the faculty and administrators present, along with several dozen members of the football team, Mizelle outlined his purpose, pointing to the players lining the shelves of the Media Center.

“I want you young men to know no one is going to work harder for you,” Mizelle began. “As most of you know I’m excited about this opportunity.

In his two seasons at South Creek, Mizelle guided the Cougars to a 16-11 record including going 9-4 last year and making it to the 3rd round of the state 1A playoffs before falling to eventual state champion, Plymouth.

“The goal here is not to re-build, but we are going to start to build and we are going to start winning immediately,” he continued. “To be in a seat where Bing Mitchell, Chip Williams, and the great Roy Bond stood is an honor. I look forward to putting Bertie back on the map and getting one of those (state championship) rings.”

Mizelle said he is bringing Bertie grad and South Creek assistant coach Doug Jernigan over to coach the offensive and defensive linemen. Williamston native Thomas Bell will also join him from his former staff as defensive coordinator. He also indicated he will keep several members who served on the staff of former Bertie coach Ty Hill.

“We’re going to put in the time and the sweat, but it’s going to take y’all and us,” he joked.

Mizelle said he enjoyed his time in Robersonville where he says the two-year effort prepared him for the Bertie post. He said it was an emotional farewell he made to his Cougar players Monday morning.

“You’ve got to not just hold the team together, but you’ve got to get the community to back you,” he acknowledged. “It’s a lot more than just showing up on Friday nights. I’ve learned a lot; and my grandfather always told me to always be professional because how you treat people one day will come around to what you hope to become and how you’re remembered.”

Mizelle acknowledged the speed of his young charges. He says he’ll run a triple option read/pass offense with a 4-2-5 defense to stop the run. He didn’t promise any wins right away, but says he has his eyes on his rivals in the Northeastern Coastal Conference – near and far.

Mizelle will teach physical education; he also hopes to have a tutoring program for players to assist in keeping up their academics, which he stressed are more important that what the players will be doing under the ‘Friday Night Lights’.

“We’re going to let the community talk all the junk, we’ll handle our business on and off the field,” he concluded.