Hilton Head Christian names Ryan Mitch head football coach

New coach fills position vacated by Tommy Lewis

02/20/2013 4:23 PM

03/07/2013 8:35 AM

Ryan Mitch can't help but laugh at the memory now.

It was just a few months ago when he sat down for a dinner with a friend in Chapel Hill, N.C., where he was working as an offensive coordinator at East Chapel High School. The two talked over wings about his football-driven family when the conversation first came up.

"What do you think of this area?" the friend asked.

Truth be told, Mitch loved where he was. In just one year's time, he helped mold the Wildcats into a .500 playoff team after the school won just six games total over the previous four seasons. The future looked bright for both his team and his career.

"I told him I loved the Chapel Hill, Durham area," Mitch recalled. " ... Basically the only way I would leave was if the perfect job came open, like in Hilton Head. I was just throwing it out there as a joke."

Funny thing was, that perfect job eventually came open. And now, Mitch finds himself as the new head coach at Hilton Head Christian Academy, where he takes over for Tommy Lewis following a highly successful 10-year run that included four SCISAA state championships.

Lewis left for the same position at Victory Christian Academy in Lakeland, Fla., last month.

"I looked into the school more and into the program and what coach Lewis has done there over the past couple years," Mitch said. "I got excited about it and thought it was something that needed to be pursued."

Mitch will spend most of his time with the Eagles as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, a position he brings a wealth of experience to. Before his one-year stint at East Chapel Hill High, where he helped lead the Wildcats to the postseason for the first time, Mitch was a three-year starter for DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Md., where he named to SuperPrep's All-American team.

He spent two years as a backup signal-caller at the University of Maryland before spending two years playing abroad for the Turku Trojans in Finland and the Hoenems Blue Devils in Austria. He also spent time with the Lexington Horsemen of the Arena Football League before becoming an assistant at Lenior-Rhyne University.

His brother, Connor Mitch, is a freshman quarterback at the University of South Carolina.

"I"m just excited about having my own program," he said. " ... I'm excited to be able to run my own stuff and also work on the defensive side of the ball. Just work on the everyday things I didn't have to work on before."

Mitch will implement a system that features four and five wide receiver sets, he said, with the pistol formation and read option added in. The Eagles will put the ball in the air plenty under the new regime, mostly through screens and the short passing game.

He's already had the chance to meet some of his future players, like do-everything standout Brad Meccariello, and hopes to introduce himself to the full team this weekend. He also plans on speaking with his peers at that time in order to gauge who has an interest in serving as an assistant coach.

Mitch, who will teach physical education and also assist with the basketball teams, already knows he has some big shoes to fill. Lewis compiled a 97-28 record with Hilton Head Christian and led the Eagles to six state championship appearances in the last seven years.

It's a task Mitch relishes, he said.

"It's won the last two state championships and it's a tough position to go into because anything but a state championship or something like that is, 'Oh, he didn't succeed,' " Mitch said. "That's one of the things that really appealed to me about the job. I want the higher expectations."

Follow reporter Chris Cox at Twitter.com/IPBG_Chris.

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