Longtime Lake Norman High School football coach Rob McNeely resigned Wednesday, informing his players at a midday meeting.
McNeely, who led the Wildcats since 2010, is leaving to take the head coaching job at Fort Mill (S.C.) High School.
Lake Norman struggled this fall on the football field, going 2-9 and 1-6 in the I-Meck Conference. That was a stark contrast to 2016’s sizzling campaign that saw the Wildcats complete their first undefeated regular season and reach 12-0 before falling to West Forsyth in the second round of the 4AA state playoffs.
McNeely was named the Statesville Record & Landmark’s Iredell County Football Coach of the Year following the 2016 season.
McNeely's announcement came one day after Mooresville High coach Marty Paxton resigned after two seasons to become head coach at Concord High.
McNeely’s departure is effective immediately, Athletic Director Jay Keener said. Keener said McNeely also taught physical education and weight training, and that a search for new football coach and teacher will begin immediately.
In a statement emailed to players and parents later Wednesday afternoon, McNeely said:
“This is a very emotional moment for me and my family. This is not a decision that was made impulsively, but rather it is one that was arrived after much prayerful soul-searching and discussion with my wife Ali. I believe that the timing of my decision is in the best interest of everyone involved, especially my family.
“When I made the transition to head coach after the 2009 season we experienced some difficult challenges and many of you were involved at that time and continued to support our program, which is how we began to turn the program into a success. When parents buy into the vision of the coach then you are truly set-up for success. I wanted us to build championship teams, something that we accomplished twice.
“I did not do this alone and was fortunate to assemble an incredible staff who had the same visions as I did. The players I’ve coached are some of the finest people I could ever ask for and with their hard work and love for each other this program turned into FAMILY, which is worth so much more than the championships to me. The relationships that I’ve built with my players will always be cherished.
“I have all the confidence that the school’s administration will seek to hire the best fit for Lake Norman High school. My only hope is that you give the new hire all the resources and support that were given to me. Until my departure date, I will continue to aid recruiters that reach out to me or come on campus to recruit the players. I will also be more than happy to continue to write reference letters for any player that needs them for the application process.”