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West Brunswick expected to hire football coach July 15

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By Michael Paul, Sports Editor

 After much speculation, Bob Hanna will be the head football coach at West Brunswick High School, West athletic director Jimmy Fletcher said.

Hanna is expected to be approved by the Brunswick County Board of Education on July 15, Fletcher said. The final holdup to Hanna’s hiring was the completion of the requisite background check.

Hanna had a brief retirement. He had retired June 30 after 43 seasons of coaching football. He was a head coach for 36 seasons, the last 20 at Irmo (S.C.) High School. At Irmo, where Hanna also was the athletic director, his teams finished 163-93. They were South Carolina Class 4A runners-up in 2002, 2004 and 2006. Eight of his Irmo teams won at least 10 games. In 20 years at Irmo, Hanna’s teams had back-to-back losing seasons once — and that was in Hanna’s first two years.

Hanna coached in the 1987 North Carolina East-West All Star game, the 1993 Shrine Bowl and the 2002 North-South All-Star game. This year the South Carolina Athletic Administrators Association named Hanna its 4A Athletic Director of the Year.

Hanna is a McKeesport, Pa., native and played football at UNC. He was a three-year starter at linebacker and was team captain in 1969, his senior year.

Hanna was one of the coaches West Brunswick athletic director Jimmy Fletcher contacted after Scott Frazier abruptly resigned May 22. A coach who had declined the West Brunswick job (the move would have left his wife without a job) recommended Hanna. Fletcher was familiar with Hanna. When Fletcher was an assistant at East Tennessee State University, he recruited some of Hanna’s players at Irmo.

Citing the need to hire the right person, Fletcher said he, along with former South Brunswick coach Roman Kelley, was ready to coach the Trojans this season rather than rush to hire someone. But Hanna was the ideal coach for Fletcher.

Hanna will be West’s third coach in three years and he has little time left in the offseason to assemble a staff, assess his players and install the defense and offense. The first day of practice is Aug. 1. The first scrimmage is Aug. 11. The annual BB&T football jamboree is Aug. 15. The first football games are Aug. 22. (West’s schedule is not yet set.)

Hanna, who recently moved North Myrtle Beach, S.C., said he never lost his passion for football but grew tired of being an athletic director.

“The A.D part of the job is just all day — that’s what A.D. stands for,” he said.

“The only part of retirement I didn’t like was walking away from coaching football.”

Getting a late start to running the program at West Brunswick is something Hanna said he knew he was going to have to deal with.

“I don’t have anything in my pocket that I can sprinkle on these kids and make them a good football team,” he said. “But we’re going to work hard, we’re going to teach good-technique football and put the kids in the best place where they can have some success.

“I still haven’t seen everybody that plays football yet, obviously. But once we do that, we’re going to come up with what we want to do on both sides of the ball.”

Hanna stressed what all football coaches have been stressing for years — the importance of strength.

“I like the attitude the kids have,” Hanna said. “They’re willing to work hard. Right now, they’re not very strong. And there is no way in the world I can get them strong in a month.

“Hopefully, we’re going to be a smart football team that takes advantage of what people give us.

“My coaches are working hard to learn the positions that they’re going to coach and the techniques that we’re going to use. The kids are working on little things that will make them better football players.

“The bottom line is we’re talking about becoming a team. We’re doing a lot of team-building things right now in the summer, where everybody is accountable to everybody else. To me, that’s football.”