Blythewood and Richland Northeast filled their football coaching vacancies Tuesday night.
C.E. Murray’s Brian Smith was named the new coach at Blythewood, while defensive coordinator Bennett Weigle was promoted to head coach at RNE. The moves were approved at the Richland 2 School Board meeting.
“Blythewood really caught my interest,” Smith said. “I really feel it can be a national program, not just leader in the state. They have a good combination of athletes and support to be successful there.”
Smith replaces Dan Morgan, who stepped down in December. The Citadel grad helped turn around the C.E. Murray program in four seasons there. The War Eagles went 19-5 in Smith’s final two seasons, won a pair of region titles and advanced to the Class A, Division II title game in 2015.
Smith was named the Class A Coach of the Year that season in guiding the C.E. Murray to its first state title appearance despite the floods earlier that year in Greeleyville, where C.E. Murray is located. That Williamsburg County town was hit hard during the floods in October and Smith was big proponent in getting the South Carolina High School League to extend the season by a week to help with the recovery.
C.E. Murray won three games in 11 days on its way to the title game.
“We made history at C.E. Murray and there’s a place in my heart for what we did there,” Smith said.
Smith said he’ll probably start at Blythewood in the next couple weeks and plans assembling his staff and talking to coaches there. He said the Bengals will be multiple on offense and throw more than his teams did at C.E. Murray.
Blythewood went 8-4 this season and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. The Bengals must replace a big senior class, which had eight players sign with colleges in February. Quarterback and Division I prospect Jordyn Adams also transferred to Green Hope in North Carolina.
At 31 years old, Weigle is one of the youngest coaches in the Midlands. He replaces Jay Frye, who stepped down in January. The Orangeburg native has been on the RNE staff since 2008. He was the defensive coordinator the past two years and defensive backs coach from 2011-14.
RNE went 5-5 this year and missed the playoffs, but had the No. 2 scoring defense in Region 3-4A after allowing 23.8 points a game.
“This is where I have been for eight years and it is home to me. Coach Frye he made a name for himself and laid a good foundation here. We are trying to build on it and get to where we want to be.”
Weigle said he will keep his hands on defensive side of the ball but Jeremy Lane will be promoted to defensive coordinator and Adam Gamble to offensive coordinator. Cedric Jones will be associate head coach.
The Cavaliers were a run-oriented team out of the spread the past couple years, but Weigle said he will shift to more of a power attack from the pistol formation.
“We are going to tweak some things and cater to what kids do best and who we have,” Weigle said. “From a fans standpoint, you will definitely see a difference.”
With those expected hires, and Perry Woolbright taking over at Lexington, three Midlands schools remain without a football coach – A.C. Flora, C.A. Johnson and Batesburg-Leesville.