BREAKING: Helms to guide Hickory football program

Former Freedom football coach Mike Helms is the next prep football coach at Hickory High School.

Helms' hire was approved during a special session of the Hickory Public Schools Board of Education on Wednesday.

“We are thrilled to have someone with Coach Helms’ wealth of experience join our coaching team,” said Dr. Ann Stalnaker, principal of Hickory High. “Coach Helms desires to lead an outstanding football team—with the core principles of hard work, dedication and team work contributing to the excellent program here at HHS. We look forward to Helms’ leadership on the field, as well as serving our students through his experience as a guidance counselor.”

Helms spent the past three seasons as head coach of the Patriots, guiding them to a 37-14 overall record.

This past season, Freedom went 12-3 — setting a record for wins by the program in one season. The Patriots eventually made it to the 3A state semifinals before being eliminated by Concord, 27-20.

“I believe that my philosophy and techniques will allow the student-athletes at Hickory High to reach their full potential,” Helms said in the release. “I promise to field a team that plays by the rules while working hard to prepare for regional and state honors. Most importantly, I promise to provide the positive playing experiences for students, as we strive to find post graduate education opportunities for all the students that I will serve."

Helms resigned as Freedom football coach on Feb. 26 just one month after an incident involving his son, Brandon, at a Freedom junior varsity basketball game at R-S Central in January.

Helms takes over the Hickory football program from Tom Harper, who stepped down after just one season to take over as the head football coach at Fred T. Foard.

The Tigers head coaching position had been vacated when Jason Phelps stepped down from his post on Feb. 20.

“As a coach and a school counselor, I look forward to working with all students within the HPS system" Helms said. "As the new head football coach at Hickory High, I am looking forward to meeting with prospective football players, as well as meeting the additional football coaches and colleagues."

Assistant principal Caroline Lovette was also approved as Hickory High's new athletic director during Wednesday's special session.