Clover High ventured just across the state border to hire one of Gaston County's winningest football coaches.
John Devine has been the football coach at South Point in Belmont, N.C., for 15 seasons, where he guided the Red Raiders to a 137-55-1 career record. At South Point, Devine won state titles in 2003 and 2009 and 10 conference championships. The 2010 Red Raiders finished 9-4 and won the Big South 3A Conference title. Devine was named the league's coach of the year.
Devine was an assistant at South Point for five seasons prior to being named head coach.
He met with the Clover football team for the first time on Tuesday. He planned to take in some of a track meet and a baseball game on campus as well.
"We had a good run (at South Point)," Devine said by phone, "but it was time to get out of my comfort zone. It's time for a new challenge in my life. Clover is a good fit. When (Clover principal, Mark) Mr. Hopkins and (Clover athletic director, Carroll) Mr. Hester called; it was the right time."
Devine and Hester have known each other as assistant coaches. Clover and South Point often played scrimmage games when Marty Woolbright was the Clover coach. Devine's wife once taught in Clover. She now is principal at Forestview (N.C.) High School.
Devine said he will finish out the school year teaching at South Point and trek south to Clover in the afternoons and on Saturdays.
"I have to get with the coaching staff and these kids to get a plan of action in place. That has to happen relatively fast," Devine said. "Come May 1, we'll have 21 days to see what we've got. We'll be in a two-minute drill, so to speak, to get to know one another."
Devine saw Clover's Wing-T offense three times while at South Point. The Blue Eagles won all three meetings.
"We might add a little option to it," Devine quipped, "but if it ain't broke; we won't fix it. We'll see what we come up with. I'll get with the coaches and decide what's best for the kids."
Hester said the school received a "good number" of applicants. Hester said the town of Belmont and Clover are quite similar; a factor that will make for an easy transition for Devine.
"Coach Devine's record, the success he has achieved, and the program he has built at South Point High School is tremendous," Hester said in a news release. "We look forward to Coach Devine's leadership, his passion, and his desire to help Clover remain at the top."
Devine will replace Jet Turner who is leaving to become the head football coach at Wilson Hall in Sumter, his hometown. Turner served eight years at Clover and led the Blue Eagles to the Class AAAA Division II South Carolina State Championship in 2007. He leaves with a career record of 70-29.