03/13/09 — Challenge awaits North Lenoir alum

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Challenge awaits North Lenoir alum

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 13, 2009 1:46 PM

LaGRANGE -- Calvin Sutton is back home.

And the North Lenoir alum couldn't be happier.

A three-sport star for the Hawks in the late 1990s, Sutton has been named the new head football coach at the Eastern Plains 2-A Conference school. He succeeds Wayne Jackson, who resigned in January after guiding the program for 10 seasons.

"If you can't go anywhere else, you can always go home and I guess that holds true," said the 26-year-old Sutton. "I'm glad to be home."

But Sutton didn't have to travel too far to return to his roots. He spent last season as the defensive coordinator at Kinston, which claimed the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference championship.

Prior to joining Battle Holley's staff in 2008, he served as Jackson's defensive coordinator for two seasons.

"A lot of guys would dream about having this opportunity right here to coach at your former school, especially someone who has coaching in his blood," said Sutton. "I'm very proud that they know a North Lenoir alum is coming home. I have a genuine interest in the school -- for it's well-being and the students."

A challenge awaits Sutton.

The Hawks have endured five consecutive losing seasons since their program-best 8-3 campaign in 2003. Jackson guided North Lenoir to its lone playoff victory in 2004.

Jackson's final two teams finished a combined 3-19.

"We've got a lot of work to do ... hit the ground running because there is no time to wait," said Sutton. "We need to put together a staff ... the right group of people who want to make a difference and get things started (in the right direction)."

Sutton doesn't expect a quick turnaround.

The Elon graduate plans to shake the bushes and look under rocks to find quality student-athletes who can help the program. He hopes those prospective players understand the commitment needed to bolster a program which moves into the ECC in 2009.

During his previous tenure at North Lenoir, Sutton found that some players appeared unmotivated, especially in the classroom. He'd inquire about grades or classwork, and usually didn't receive favorable responses.

"We have to change that," said Sutton. "The same attitude, intensity and energy you exert in sports, you've got to show the same attitude, intensity and energy in the classroom.

"They're student-athletes and we're banking on being that student first."

Sutton is the eighth head coach in North Lenoir's 44-year history. Jackson has the most wins as head coach (38), but Cleve Creech, who coached in the late 1960s, owns the program's lone winning career record and best winning percentage.