Tigers down to two potential head football coaches

It's a two-man race for the Fred T. Foard varsity football coaching job, according to principal Chris Gibbs.

The Tigers have narrowed down a field of 25 applicants to two potential candidates to lead Foard on the gridiron this fall.

No official job offer has been made to either of the two candidates.

The school does also not have a clear final candidate to present at the next Catawba County Schools board meeting, which is scheduled for Monday.

Jason Phelps resigned on Feb. 20 as the head varsity football coach at Fred T. Foard after just two seasons.

The new Foard hire will be head coach No. 10 for the Tigers in the past 35 years — a list that includes 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) and Phelps (2011-12).

Another county coaching vacancy at St. Stephens produced 51 applicants.

Indians athletic director Amy Rucker indicated earlier this week that the school would not be introducing a new varsity head football coach by next Thursday despite setting a tentative deadline of March 28.

The Indians are looking for a new coach after Chris Bunting resigned Feb. 11 after one season to take an assistant coaching position at Clover High School (S.C.).

This is the second-straight year that the Indians have searched for a new varsity football coach. Bunting, who was Saint's defensive coordinator two seasons ago, was promoted to head coach after Fred Whalen stepped down following the 2011 season.

Six of Catawba County's seven high schools have changed head coaches in varsity football during the past two offseasons, including Foard, St. Stephens, Newton-Conover (Brint Russell), Maiden (Frank Snider), Hickory (Tom Harper) and Bandys (Trent Lowman).

Bunker Hill is the only school to have not changed coaches. Travis Conner has led the Bears football program since 2010.