Hale, Harner named new head football coaches in Wythe Co.

By Allen Worrell

May 9, 2014

Friday was a huge day for two former Carroll County football coaches.

Tom Hale, the all-time winningest head coach in Carroll County football history with 78 victories, was announced as the new head coach at Fort Chiswell. Ironically, at almost the same time, Fort Chiswell’s biggest rival, George Wythe, named its new head coach, Brandon Harner, who has coached under Hale for the past 13 seasons at Carroll County.

Hale stepped down as the Cavaliers’ head coach at the end of the 2013 season. Harner said he knew it wouldn’t last long.

“I’m excited for coach and I. I knew the night he resigned he was going to miss it. It wasn’t but about a month before we were on the whiteboard talking football and you could tell he was already getting the itch,” Harner said. “Then all these jobs came open and I knew if he wasn’t coaching football he was going to drive himself and everyone around him crazy.”

Having played and coached for Hale all of his adult life, Harner said it would definitely be awkward when he and Hale face off against each other on opposite sidelines when George Wythe and Fort Chiswell meet in 2014. But that is the last thing on either one of their minds at the moment.

“I’m just trying to take it one step at a time. Right now we are just so happy for each other after all the hard work we put in together at Carroll County,” Harner said. “That part hasn’t hit yet. When that day comes we will deal with it then, but for right now we are just happy for each other.”

After his football playing days were over, Harner was already serving as a volunteer coach with Carroll while he was still a senior in high school, helping the team in the weight room. Hale moved him up to head JV coach at Carroll at the tender age of 19.

“That said a lot about the trust he had in me,” Harner said.

After three years as head JV coach at Carroll, Harner moved up as a varsity assistant, working with the offensive and defensive lines. From there, he served “basically” as Hale’s co-offensive coordinator, helping call plays. He served as Carroll’s defensive coordinator the past two seasons.

“I have definitely done a little bit of everything in the spectrum, which was great because it prepared me for this job,” Harner said. “I started coaching when I was 18 and I always knew this is what I wanted to do. The last couple of years I have been getting my stuff together and getting organized and getting prepared for interviews. I think George Wythe is the best job in Southwest Virginia. It’s something I’ve been preparing for a long time and it just shows that hard work pays off.”

While Harner, 31, said he has taken a tremendous amount of knowledge from Hale over the past decade and a half, he said organization is probably the best trait his former coach taught him.

“The one thing Coach Hale taught me more than anything was the importance of organization. He is OCD when it comes to that,” Harner said. “He said he didn’t care what type of offense or defense you ran, if you are not organized you won’t be successful. He emphasized that is what it takes to be a successful head coach.”