After going 4-29 in the last 3 years, Hickory High School has hired coaching legend Russell Stone as their new head football coach to try and turn the program around.
Stone has 36 years of head coaching experience and has won 262 games. This past season, he coached at Village Christian and took the Knights to the NCISAA Division 3 state title game before losing to Statesville Christian.
He has also been head coach at South Robeson, Lumberton, West Forsyth, Purcell Swett, and Douglas Byrd.
Stone has sent nearly 300 student-athletes to play sports in college.
Joining Stone on his new coaching staff is Justin Harper. He will be the associate head football coach.
Harper is a graduate of Bandys High School where he was a 4 sports star but excelled at football.
He went on to play college ball at Virginia Tech and played 4 years in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens.
After his football playing days, Harper got into college coaching with stops at Lenoir-Rhyne and Virginia State.
From 1995-2009, Hickory had a run where they never had a losing season and claimed 6 conference titles.
In 1996, the Red Tornadoes won their 1st and only NCHSAA state championship.
But this once proud program has fallen on hard times lately. In 2014, Hickory went 1-10. In 2015, they were 1-10. And this past season, they went 2-9.
"It's really about building a foundation," said coach Stone in a press release provided by Hickory Public Schools. "I coach from a positive perspective, engaging all players including those who've made mistakes. It's important the players want to be better athletes, smarter athletes, better people all around for themselves and for their team."
Stone will start at Hickory on March 3rd.