After months of speculation as to who would guide the future of the Fred T. Foard football program, the Tigers finally have their man.
Jason Phelps, who spent the past three seasons at Bartlett Yancey High School, was hired as the head football coach at Foard.
Phelps was introduced Wednesday evening in the Fred T. Foard High School cafeteria with parents and students watching in attendance.
Phelps said there were a few main reasons the Foard coaching job interested him.
“My family situation was the most important,” Phelps said. “I’ve got family in Caldwell and Watauga Counties. That is where my parents are from and where I grew up. Aside from my family, there is the challenge of this job, but knowing this a good community, there are good people here and it is a good place to work and live”
Phelps, who becomes the ninth Foard football coach since 1978, inherits a team that has struggled over the last few years.
The Tigers were 0-11 last season and are 30-61 over the last eight seasons.
Phelps said there are a few characteristics he will bring to this team that might be new to the players, but will change the culture of losing at the school.
“Unity, discipline and character,” Phelps said. “Bringing those types of things into the program where I don’t think they’ve had that over the last few years.”
During his tenure at Bartlett Yancey, Phelps guided a struggling program to six victories in three seasons.
The Buccaneers have only 18 wins since 1999, including those six wins from Phelps’ teams.
As for team goals for the Tigers this season, Phelps already has a few simple ones in mind for his players.
“I am not going to set a number of wins,” Phelps said. “I am not going to say we will win five ball games or three. We are going to get better every day and strive to make the playoffs.”
A 1992 graduate of Watauga High School, Phelps will have an opportunity to play against his alma mater on Sept. 16, when the Tigers travel to take on the Pioneers.
“One of my best friends in coaching, Tim Pruitt, is the head coach there,” Phelps said. “He and I worked at Starmount when we won a state championship. We are very close, but there is no team out there I’d want to be any more than them.”