BREAKING: Harper leaves Hickory, takes over at FTF

Fred T. Foard's next football coach is a familiar name in the Northwestern 3A/4A.

Hickory's Tom Harper has decided to leave the Red Tornadoes after just one season to take over the Tigers football program.

The school requested Harper's hire during Catawba County Schools Board of Education monthly meeting on Monday.

The 49-year-old Harper replaces Jason Phelps, who resigned on Feb. 20 as Foard head football coach after just two seasons. Phelps was 4-16 during his tenure, including a pair of 2-8 conference marks.

Harper is no stranger in the Northwestern 3A/4A, having coached five seasons at Alexander Central from 2007-11 before coming to Hickory last season. He led the Cougars to a 34-26 record during that time, including a Northwestern 3A/4A title in 2010.

A Catawba College graduate, Harper also spent time coaching another area school, East Burke, from 1999-2001. He compiled an 8-24 record with the Cavaliers.

This past season, Harper guided Hickory to an 8-5 record, including a 3A playoff appearance and first round playoff victory against conference mate Hibriten.

Harper, who served as athletic director at Hickory, will be a Dropout Prevention Coordinator at Foard before transitioning into a physical education position next school year. He is expected to start at Foard after a 60-day notice to the Hickory Public School (HPS) system passes or if he asks for his release from HPS and it is granted.

The first game for Harper as Foard coach will take place at home on Aug. 23 against Maiden.

Harper will lead his new team against his former team on Oct. 25 with the Tigers square off with the Red Tornadoes in Hickory.

Head football coaches at Foard (since 1977)
Dick Foster (1977-86)
Donnie Bassinger (1987-88)
Kevin Wilson (1989)
Tony Paroli (1990-95)
Mike McRee (1996-97)
Allan Gorry (1998-2000)
Charlie Lloyd (2001-02)
Ryan Gettys (2003-10)
Jason Phelps (2011-12)
Tom Harper (2013)