There will be a new face on the sidelines for Sharks football this season.
St. James High School varsity football hired Cox Mill High School (Concord, North Carolina) football head coach Craig Stewart as a new offensive assistant coach on Tuesday, June 30.
“I got a call about an open job for coaching and teaching,” Stewart said. “(St. James football head) coach (Tommy) Norwood and principal (Vann) Pennell were genuine and passionate. It’s a good school and a good football program. My wife and I talked about it. We had the opportunity to come out and they seemed like good people from the conversations I had. Coach Norwood did a good job Ragsdale (High School in Jamestown, N.C.). It was a good opportunity and I decided I wanted to take it.”
Stewart coached at Cox Mill for seven years, leading the Chargers to their first conference title last season before falling to Northern Guilford in the first round of the 2019 N.C. 3AA State Championship playoffs. He was named the 2019 South Piedmont Conference Coach of the Year and led Cox Mill to a 15-9 overall record the past two seasons.
Stewart hopes he can provide a fresh set of eyes for the Sharks offense.
“(I’ll be) somebody with a different perspective,” Stewart said. “Whatever they’re doing, I can see a couple things to help them improve and do what needs to be done to help the players and the team.”
Stewart also coached the Cox Mill boys’ track team the past two seasons, was the driver’s education teacher and was the leader of the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes club.
Stewart coached and taught at N.C. schools over a span of 29 years. In addition to Cox Mill, Stewart also had stops at Southwest Randolph, Mooresville, Hickory Ridge and Northwest Cabarrus Middle and High Schools.
Stewart wants to help St. James immediately.
“I want to try to get down as fast as I can,” he said. “I think I found a place. I want to get down in the next week, maybe two depending how long the process takes. Workouts are canceled after today (July 2) because of COVID, but when they start back, my plan is to be back down here.”
Stewart is eager and grateful that Norwood and Pennell took a chance on him.
“I’m excited and ready to get started,” Stewart said. “I’m excited about the opportunity and I appreciate the opportunity from Coach Norwood and Principal Pennell. I’ll do everything I can to help those guys and the school to reach its potential and be the best it can be.”
Norwood isn’t exactly sure what Stewart will be doing just yet but knows he’ll be on the offensive side of the ball.
“We haven’t decided,” Norwood said. “He’ll be on the offensive staff. We’re adding to our staff; we didn’t have anyone leave. There was no staff turnover.”
Norwood is excited to see what Stewart bring to the table.
“I think he’s been involved in some great programs,” Norwood said. “He’s not only a good coach, but a good person, and I’m looking for him to help our kids at St. James. For our offense, he brings experience. He’ll give us different views. We’re looking to improve, and he’ll give us insight. I want input from all the coaches; it’s everybody’s who’s involved’s program.
Norwood thinks Stewart will have a profound impact on St. James.
“I think he’ll be a big asset to the football team and the school,” Norwood said. “People tell me so many positive things about him.”