Luke Little is leaving Whiteville as the Wolfpack’s head football coach after six seasons to take the same position at Freedom High School.
Little, who got the call Sunday night that he was going to be the next man up in Morganton, said the call to return to his roots in Western North Carolina was too much to ignore.
“It’s a good location and a good job,” said Little, who played football under his father Mark at West Stanly in the early 90s before heading to Appalachian State to play baseball.
“It’s kind of a step up in a big football area. I think I have more familiarity with the area. I basically grew up there and it feels like home when you go through. I spent a lot of years in that area of the state.”
The 40-year-old veteran has a record of 88-55 in 11 seasons as a head coach. He spent five seasons at South Stanly before leading Whiteville to four Three Rivers 2-A/1-A Conference championships in six seasons with the Wolfpack.
Little is set to begin in Morganton on March 26 and will continue his position as a physical education teacher. He replaces Jim Bob Bryant, who resigned after leading the Patriots to a 7-5 record in his lone season with the program.
“We’re going to try to be real disciplined and play hard from beginning to end no matter what the score is,” Little said. “We’re going to do things the right way and give a lot of effort.”
The Patriots, who compete in the Northwestern 4-A/3-A Conference, have won 13 combined games over the past two seasons, snapping a streak of double-digit wins in six consecutive years.
Little said he’ll enter his new gig with the same three goals in mind that he carries into each season.
“Every team I’ve had, we’ve always had three goals,” he said. “We try to be the best team in the county, the best team in the conference and then we try to win state.
“That’s going to be the same expectation up there (in Morganton).”
Little earned Three Rivers Conference coach of the year honors four times with the Wolfpack. He led Whiteville to the NCHSAA state playoffs in each of his six seasons with three appearances in the third round.
While his time in Whiteville was successful on the field, Little said he’ll miss the kids more than anything and the relationships he built along the way.
“The kids always played hard and worked hard in the weight room. It was never hard to get them going,” he said. “That made things real easy. They have a good group coming back. The biggest thing for me in leaving is the friendships built.”
Staff writer Rodd Baxley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 486-3519.