The Transylvania Times -

By Jeremiah Reed
Sports Editor 

Stack Resigns As Tiger Coach


April 15, 2019

The Matt Stack era has officially come to an end in Rosman.

Last Monday, Stack tendered his resignation as the Tigers’ head football coach. Stack was hired in 2017 and was 5-19 over his two seasons at the helm.

In a phone interview on Friday, Stack said he didn’t want to leave Rosman, but got an offer for a job that he couldn’t turn down.

Stack is crossing state lines to take over the defensive coordinator position at Easley High School. The Green Wave is one of the biggest teams in South Carolina, holding a five-star classification with an enrollment of roughly 1,750 students.

Stack said while the decision wasn’t easy, he likes the job he’s walking into and believes it is a necessary step for his career and for his family.

“I hate to leave Rosman,” Stack said. “It’s a great community, with great kids and a great faculty. I’ll always be a Tiger and I hope that they win a state championship next year. This is a decision that I had to make for my family and our future. There was really no way I could turn it down.”

With the move to Easley, Stack will be working under a coach he’s known previously.

The Green Wave recently hired Caleb King to take over the program. King spent the better part of the past decade on the coaching staff at Havelock High School, in North Carolina, including the past two seasons as head coach, guiding the Rams to a combined 27-3 record, two trips to the regional finals and one trip to the state finals in 2017.

King and Havelock were household names in the Piedmont when it came to football and Stack said they were always one of the teams to beat come playoff time.

“Every year, we would look and see that if we made a deep run in the playoffs, we were going to have to go through Havelock. I knew a lot about coach King and a lot of coaches I’ve networked with back east know him. He’s an offensive guru, and he’s a really good defensive coach,” he said.

Stack said he got calls from other coaches about the possibility of teaming up with King in Easley, but it wasn’t until King contacted him directly that things fell into place.

“When (King) took the job at Easley, a lot of coaches I know reached out and said, ‘You guys would be an unbelievable team to join forces.’ So, I’m really excited about the opportunity to get to coach alongside coach King and put our heads together to win football games,” Stack said.

As for his time at Rosman, Stack took over after Freddie Whitman was let go following five seasons as the head man. Stack’s first order of business was to reshape the offense and install the spread. The Tigers adapted well to the changes, scoring roughly 21 points per game during Stack’s tenure. But the defense allowed 39 points per game over that stretch, putting Rosman in some tough spots.

Stack said he was proud of how his team came together in learning a new system over the past two seasons and fought hard every Friday night.

“The kids have gotten in the weight room and have embraced the new culture over the past two years, and they’re right there on the brink. We’ve lost some real tight ball games, and we might have even hosted a playoff game, potentially, if we could have won some of those games,” he said.

Stack also believes the Rosman program isn’t far away from taking the next step as a program, as he is optimistic about the team moving forward.

“The guys are starting to turn the corner and I was expecting to have a good season going into year three. We’ve got a friendly schedule in the fall and these kids have gotten so much stronger. This offseason has been huge in the weight room. So, whoever comes in will be in a good position. The culture is building in the right direction,” Stack said.

In his final remarks, Stack reiterated his love for the Rosman community and its football program.

“I’ll be cheering for the Tigers every Friday night. Every Friday night, I’ll be checking on their score. Rosman is a great place and a great community. I love the kids. I wish them nothing but the best, and I appreciate them accepting me and my family for the past two years,” Stack said.

RHS athletic director Derrick Huggins offered his thanks to Stack for his two years on the Tigers’ sideline and wished him the best moving forward. In the meantime, the Tigers have already put the job on the market and have gotten several applications.

County athletic director Alan Justice said while a coach’s resignation is never expected, he wasn’t completely surprised by the move, as it comes with the territory.

“These things happen in the coaching world,” Justice said. “The timing wasn’t perfect. You never want to try to hire a coach this late in the game. But the bright spot is we’re getting a number of applications, which is a good thing. I wasn’t sure how many applications we would get, and, on paper, we seem to be getting some qualified candidates.”

While there isn’t much time to vet candidates and go through an extended interview process, Justice emphasized that school officials want to make sure they find the right person for the job, adding that there are several people in place that could take over the program on an interim basis to give more time to find a permanent head coach.

One interesting name that came up as a possible interim coach was Dan Essenberg. Essenberg, who coached Rosman in the early ‘90s and later at Brevard for more than a decade before retiring in 2007, had already agreed to coach the Tigers’ defense this upcoming season, according to Stack.

“Coach Essenberg was definitely going to be on the coaching staff,” Stack said. “As far as anything further, I had to inform my coaches and players about my decision on Monday. It was a shock for them, but coach Essenberg will be there to support whoever it is that comes in and be involved in Rosman football to some capacity.”

While an interim coach wouldn’t be an ideal scenario, officials say they are willing to take their time and find the right person for the job.

“We don’t want to rush this decision. We want to make the right decision for Rosman and the right decision for the community,” Justice said.

When asked for his early thoughts about the qualities they were looking for in a new coach, Justice expressed a desire to get back to the old style of Rosman football, which means finding a coach who will embrace the style of the Smoky Mountain Conference.

“I think we’re looking for somebody that’s going to be more defensive-minded and bring back the ‘two-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust’ mindset on offense,” Justice said. “The Smoky Mountain Conference is tough and we need to find somebody that understands how competitive the conference is and the kind of players that we have. We have to be able to play defense and run the ball.”

Huggins agreed, saying it was important to find a coach who understands the Rosman community and the nature of games in the SMC.

“The Rosman High School administration is committed to finding the best fit for our student-athletes, football program and community. We want a coach who understands what it takes to play winning football, and has our kids ready to compete in the toughest 1A conference in the state of North Carolina,” he said.

It’s hard to think about, but Rosman’s season opener is just over four months away, as the Tigers are set to host Enka on Aug. 23.

And although it’s unclear who will be the leader on the sidelines, school officials are confident they will find the right person to guide the program.

“Rosman is a very appealing job, and we want someone who is committed to us and our players. We have been known across the state in the past as a team that is hard-nosed, physical, and never quits. We want a coach that shares those same mindsets. Good days are ahead for Rosman football,” Huggins said.


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