From a Bear to a Bear

Published 9:51 am Friday, July 28, 2023

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AHOSKIE – The Terrance Saxby era is over at Hertford County High School, but not before the coach was able to add to the long and proud tradition of its state-recognized football program.

Last week, defending state 4A champion New Bern High School announced it has successfully lured Saxby away from Hertford County to become its next head football coach.

“This move has nothing to do with Hertford County; it’s about a decision I’m making at this stage of my coaching career,” said Saxby, who has been at the helm of the HCHS football program since 2014. “This is more about my family than anything else. They have been telling me that it’s time to do what’s best for me, but even with that this was still a tough decision to make because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in Hertford County and coaching the kids there.”

Saxby said he broke the news to his players last week.

“That, without a doubt, was the toughest thing I’ve ever done…to look those young men in the eye and telling them that I loved them, but I was leaving them,” he noted. “I explained to them that it was nothing they did that forced me to leave. I know the timing is awful for them with pre-season practice starting Monday (July 31), but that’s gonna be tough for me as well going into a new season at a new school.”

While he served as the HCHS head coach for nine seasons, Saxby has been with Hertford County Public Schools for a longer period. He first arrived in 2008, spending time as an assistant coach under former head coaches Diego Hasty and Scott Privott. Saxby also served as the program’s head junior varsity football coach.

He briefly left the coaching ranks during a three-year stint as an educational administrator. Saxby returned to the football sidelines in 2014 when he took the job as the HCHS head coach.

His first win as a varsity head coach came on Sept. 12, 2014. HCHS trailed by 12 points at Nash Central, but rallied in the second half to collect a 20-18 victory. However, the Bears would manage only three more wins that season, finishing with a 4-8 overall record after losing in the first round of the state playoffs.

That would mark his only losing season at HCHS. The team rebounded with back-to-back nine-win seasons. The Bears added a pair of 11-win seasons (2019 and 2022) under Saxby and the team never missed the state playoffs, reaching the third round four times (2016, 2018, 2019, 2022).

His head coaching record at HCHS over nine seasons is 60-48.

“It’s been a great experience here; I grew as a coach and a man in Hertford County,” Saxby stressed. “I learned a lot from the other coaches here as well as from the fine people in this community.

“I really appreciate the opportunity that Charles Simmons (HCHS Athletic Director) gave me here,” Saxby continued. “He gave me a chance to prove myself and I’m forever grateful for that. He taught me how to lead. Hertford County is a great place with a winning tradition and I did everything within my power to continue that tradition.”

A native of Charlotte, football has been a part of Saxby’s life for many years. He was a linebacker in high school and afterwards for one year at Rock Valley, a junior college in Illinois. He returned to his home state to play football under Steve Lee and Lou Saban at Chowan University for the next three years. He would continue to serve the football program at Chowan, working as a defensive coach under former head coach Lorick Atkinson.

As witnessed during his time as the head coach at HCHS, Saxby developed an offensive play-calling scheme that was popular among his players and the fans of the program.

“Being a defensive coach, you understand what types of offense give your players the most problems,” he shared. “I studied a lot of the other programs that were using a spread set and with the great athletes we’ve had here at Hertford County during my time as head coach, it was natural to employ an offense that would allow them to make plays in the open field. I took bits and pieces of the spread sets used by other coaches and incorporated them into my style of offense. We used a balanced approach, blending the run game with the passing game. I just felt so blessed to have the high caliber of players I had here at Hertford County.”

Saxby now takes what he’s learned to a bigger school at New Bern High. And it’s ironic that when New Bern goes in search of a new head football coach, the road seems to lead to northeastern North Carolina. They’ve won all four of their state championships under coaches from the Roanoke-Chowan area: Bertie’s Bobby Curlings (2007, 2012, 2014) and Gates County’s Torrey Nowell (2022).

“I hope that tradition continues when I take over their already successful football program. The pressure is on me to live up to that,” Saxby said.

Tuesday (July 25) was Saxby’s first official day as the new head coach at New Bern High School.

“I got a chance to meet with my players and they seemed to be just as excited as I am to get the season started; they’re ready to go to work,” Saxby said.

And while Saxby’s focus is fixed on this new band of Bears (New Bern and HCHS share the same mascot), he’ll never forget what gave him the opportunity to take his coaching prowess to the next level.

“Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to everyone in Hertford County that supported me as a coach, a teacher, and a member of the community. I’ll be watching the Internet for scores during the upcoming football season and I wish those guys nothing but the very best,” Saxby closed.

Who will succeed Saxby at HCHS is not known at this time.

Simmons told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald on Thursday of this week that he was in the process of conducting interviews for the head coaching vacancy. Whichever candidate he selects would have to be approved by the Hertford County Board of Education.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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