CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Fans are still processing the news that the Carolina Panthers are moving forward without Coach Ron Rivera.
Defensive Back Coach Perry Fewell will fill the spot as Interim Head Coach. He’s had an extensive coaching career, working with six other NFL teams before coming to the Panthers this season. He worked with the Jacksonville Jaguars, St. Louis Rams, Chicago Bears, Buffalo Bills, New York Giants and Washington Redskins.
He’s also a graduate of South Point High School in Belmont and Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory.
“He was the heart and soul of that ball club,” Phil Tate, who coached football at South Point High School from 1969 to 2019 said.
Tate said Fewell was destined for greatness from a young age.
“He was president of the student body, president of the senior class, he was just a stand up guy, character guy, the kind of guy you win with," Tate said.
Coaches Phil Tate and Jim Biggerstaff are not surprised he’s where he is and that he never forgets where he came from.
“Coach Tate and I used to go to Buffalo when he was the defensive coordinator at Buffalo," Jim Biggerstaff, who coached at South Point High School from 1969 to 1989 said. "He’s even had me and my wife to the Superbowl when he won the Superbowl in 2011.”
They believe finishing out the season is going to be a challenge, but it’s nothing Fewell can’t handle.
“He was interviewed for the Panther job before Rivera got it,” Tate said. “Of course we were all excited. But he didn’t get the job.”
Now that he has it, they hope he keeps it.
“He’s got the DNA, he’s got the experience, he’s just a first-class guy, I think the players would play for him because he’s a people guy,” Tate said.
He is a father, husband, and almost like a son to his coaches.
“He’s a character guy and I do know this about football, you win with character," Tate said.