New football coach: ‘I think you have a chance to win big’


By Kevin Spradlin

* BOE appoints Castellano next Raiders football coach

Mike Castellano wasn’t the first choice to replace Paul Hoggard as the Richmond Raiders football coach. Mike Castellano doesn’t care.

Castellano, 40, was appointed by members of the Richmond County Board of Education on Wednesday morning to the position. He’ll serve in the dual role as a social studies teacher at the high school. But in a phone interview Wednesday night with The Pee Dee Post, the 20-year coaching veteran made no bones about where his passion lies.

Raiders_logo_football“Football,” Castellano said of he and his wife, Allison, and their shared focus apart from their regular jobs. “That’s what we live and breathe for.”

Castellano cast aside any concern anyone might have about not being the first choice for the job. He said his wife might have though the same thing about the two of them, but “we knew when we got together, it was the right fit.”

Castellano was at Richmond Senior High School late Wednesday afternoon, will be there again Thursday and will take over the job on a full-time basis on June 12. And he’s the only one who will show up with the title of head coach.

“I think it’s a great job,” Castellano said. “Obviously, it’s a passionate fan base. They wanna win football. I’m a football coach. Winning is what I wanna do. I think you have a chance to win big.”

Castellano wouldn’t guarantee a state title this fall — far from such an outright declaration. He did say, however, the little things could add up to bigger things. He said his approach is to “go 1-0” each semester by getting an A, 1-0 in practice and “just worrying about what’s in front of you.”

Castellano discarded any notion about Richmond’s rich football tradition, which includes seven state championships, as being a reason to stay away from such a position. He considers it a challenge.

“Why wouldn’t you wanna go,” Castellano asked.

The pressure from a passionate fan base is real enough, that’s for sure. After first reported Castellano, who will finish the school year at Middle Creek High School in Wake County, Ernest Jones took to The Pee Dee Post‘s Facebook page to make a suggestion: Get ready to fire the new coach.

Castellano compiled a 32-8 record — an .800 winning percentage — during three seasons with the Mustangs. That wasn’t good enough for Jones, who was likely being — at least partially — sarcastic.

“According to his record, he loses 20 percent of his games,” Jones posted. “I hope he know(s) we don’t accept mediocrity like that in Raider Country!!! Win them all or pack your bags.”

Castellano said he was at Raider Stadium on Wednesday to meet the coaches. He acknowledged it was “real, real late in the game” in terms of planning a summer practice schedule but he and his assistant coaches are “trying to create a game plan going forward.”

He said he’s met the assistants and understands they’re all good people, but Castellano said he’s unsure whether or not any positions are vacant.

Julian Carter, executive director of human resources for Richmond County Schools, was tasked with overseeing the selection process of the high school’s 10th football coach. Dr. Cindy Goodman, superintendent, and Carter worked as part of an an eight-person selection committee that included Associate Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Jeff Maples, Executive Director for Auxiliary Services Dennis Quick, Richmond Senior High School Principal Keith McKenzie, RSHS Assistant Principal Daryl Mason, RSHS Athletic Director Ricky Young and Rohannen Middle School principal and former RSHS football coach and athletic director Hal Shuler.

Castellano thanked the committee for having the confidence in him. He also said he’ll have a soft spot for the Middle Creek campus community.

“I love the kids at Middle Creek,” he said. “I loved our coaching staff, our principal, our parents.”

Castellano started his coaching career while an undergrad at Catawba College under head coach David Bennett. There, he was “trying to learn some football.”

He served as a graduate assistant while at Delta State University in Mississippi — the Statesmen won their conference championship that year. He also was an assistant at Millbrook for two years.

Filed in: Latest Headlines, Sports

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