WILMINGTON– Earl Smith was has been officially introduced as the new head football coach at New Hanover High School during a press conference at the school, according to information provided by the school system.
Smith rejoins the Wildcats after spending the 2001-2002 seasons in Wilmington and returns to the gridiron for the first time since retiring from the game in 2008.
“It’s really interesting how the stars kind of aligned for me,” said Smith. “I took a break from coaching and have done four different types of work since then and something was missing. I’m 60 years old, spent 32 years coaching and this is what I do. My wife and I love this area. We have our youngest daughter and her family entrenched in the Wilmington community and all the ingredients are here to continue the success on the football field.
“When I finally do decide to retire it will be in Wilmington. I love New Hanover, and the program’s in great shape.”
Smith replaces Kevin Motsinger, who stepped down last month after nine seasons. After a number of losing seasons at the school, Smith was the person who put New Hanover football back in the right direction after helping guide the storied program to its first playoff appearance in nearly a decade. Under Motsinger, the Wildcats then advanced to the playoffs in each of his nine seasons and took the 2009 team to the East Regional Final.
“I felt like when I left in 2002, there was unfinished business when I left,” said Smith. “My dad taught me if you start something you need to finish it. Principal McAdams, Coach Keith Moore have been great. Coach Motsinger and me have talked nearly every day. The program has been in good hands for the last nine years and it will be a totally different experience compared to the first time around.”
After his time in Wilmington, Smith spent five years as head coach of Wake Forest-Rolesville, where he led the Cougars to three straight conference titles, and retired after the 2008 season. Prior to his two years at New Hanover, he spent 18 seasons at Raleigh Millbrook.