We continue our weekly preseason high school football series with a check in at East Chapel Hill High School. The Wildcats struggled to a 3-8 finish last season. But now, a new era begins for Wildcat football as head coach Mike Holderman begins his attempt to rebuild the program.
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For the newly installed Wildcat coach, the opportunity to move down South and be near his family was a no-brainer.
“My brother and his family live in Raleigh. My sister and her family live in Durham. My mom lives in Morrisville. My wife and I always had the plan to head down South. When this opened up, it was a perfect offer,” Coach Holderman says.
Coach Holderman is wasting no time shaking things up at East Chapel Hill. He’s not easing his way in. He says it may be too late to change the culture, but he will be transforming the offensive and defensive schemes.
“We are completely changing the system, offensively and defensively. We’ve been getting these guys to buy in to the way we do things. It’s really too late to change the overall culture of the program, so right now, we’re working the offensive and defensive systems,” Coach Holderman says.
Thankfully for Coach Holderman, he says the kids have been very receptive to his new coaching philosophy.
As far as the makeup of his 2014 squad, the Wildcat leader identifies plenty of promising athletes, but the experience level isn’t where he’d like it be. Still, Coach Holderman says the future looks bright for his new team.
“Skill-wise, we have a lot of great skill kids. They’re very young, but very talented. If we can keep them in the program and have them continue to progress, they’re going to be really good football players,” Coach Holderman says.
Fans should look for East Chapel Hill’s offense to be filled with exciting plays this fall. Coach Holderman says unlike previous Wildcat teams, he’ll be heavily incorporating a tight end into his wing-type and spread up-tempo offense.
“We’re going to have a tight end nine out of ten times. We’ll motion almost every play, try to do a whole bunch of misdirection stuff and utilize the speed that we have,” Coach Holderman says.
But Coach Holderman is under no illusions. He’s not expecting everything to click from day one. He says the season ahead will serve as a learning tool for his players.
“We are really behind the eight ball with these guys. We’re going to be learning all season long. There isn’t going to be a point that we put the whole playbook in. We’re going to continue to evolve the offense and defense,” Coach Holderman says.
The 4A Pac-6 conference is sure to provide a stern test to a program in transition. Perennial powerhouses Riverside and Hillside pack a tough one-two punch. Not surprisingly, Coach Holderman says he projects a tough road ahead for his Wildcats in 2014.
“We’ve got Hillside in there. Everybody knows about Hillside. They won a title a couple years ago and have a lot of great football players. Riverside had a phenomenal year last year and Northern Durham was right there in the mix as well. We have our hands full,” Coach Holderman says.
With tempered expectations and talented youth in skill positions under a fresh, eager head coach, the Wildcats will enter the fall with nothing to lose and everything to gain.