Tuscola picks PursleyMountaineers hire their 10th football coach since 1966
Tuscola has a new football coach.
The school held a press conference in the auditorum Tuesday morning to introduce Howard “Tommy” Pursley, who has been hired to replace Brandon Allen as the football program’s 10th head coach since the doors opened in 1966.
Pursley, who retired as a high school teacher and coach after the 2012 football season, comes to Tuscola from Division II Brevard College after serving as the Tornados defensive coordinator for one season. He brings an impressive resume with him that includes 37 years of high school coaching experience and 226 wins in his 33 years as a high school head football coach.
“I have spent more than 35 years coaching in the high school ranks and when I finally retired, I thought I was done coaching high school football,” said Pursley, who played defensive back at Appalachian State University and later was a graduate assistant. “But I quickly realized I missed the relationships with the kids and the practices. When the Tuscola job came open, my son told me to check it out because it was a football program that has a rich-tradition, lots of success and incredible fan support. One week later, I am here, at Tuscola hired as the new football coach.
“Tuscola High School is a very special place and I am so excited to get started as the Mountaineers’ head football coach. We have a lot of work to do before camp opens up. A lot of work to do and not much time. That’s the biggest challenge we face is getting the coaches and players online and on the same page, installing the systems and getting ready for the season opener in late August.
“But I can’t wait to work with the student-athletes and families that are part of the Tuscola football program. I know that I’ll be working with a great group of kids who are driven to succeed and supported by families who want the same,” said Pursley.
Pursley met with the players before Tuesday morning’s press conference and according to captain and rising senior Houston McCracken, Pursley is the perfect man for the job.
“I’m excited to have Coach Pursley and he is the perfect man to run our football program’s tradition of success,” said McCracken. “We met with him before the press conference and every player came away just as excited as I was about Coach Pursley. There is no question, he is all business and he gets straight to the point. I love that. There are big changes are coming real soon at Tuscola.”
During Pursley’s tenure at Northeast Guilford, his football teams averaged over nine wins a year and made the playoffs for 20 consecutive seasons, which is currently the third longest streak in the state. The Rams never had a losing season under Pursley.
Northeast Guilford advanced in the playoffs 10 of his last 15 years, including two state championship appearances (1997, 2003). In 2008, the Rams nearly made their third appearance in the state championship game, but they lost in the Eastern Regional game the week before.
Pursley recorded 180 wins at NEG, making him the winningest coach in Northeast Guilford history. His 226 career wins placed him in the top 10 of active coaches in the state of North Carolina at the time of his retirement in 2012.
A 10-time Coach of the Year, Pursley has also served as the North Carolina team’s defensive coordinator in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas an in the North Carolina East-West All-Star Game.
Before Northeast Guilford, Coach Pursley was head coach at Trinity, Western Alamance and South Caldwell High Schools.
He and his wife, Lisa, have one son, Brock, who is the offensive coordinator at Clark Atlanta University.
According to Haywood County Schools Associate Superintendent Bill Nolte, Coach Pursley will be a part-time teacher (scheduled to teach three classes a day) as well as serving as the head football coach at Tuscola High School. His yearly salary will be $35,500.
Pisgah High School’s Brett Chappell is a full time teacher with 14 years of experience as well as serving as the head football coach. His yearly salary is $57,181.
• 2013 Defensive Coordinator Brevard College
• 1993-2012 Head Football Coach Northeast Guilford High School.
• Averaged 9 wins a year for 20 years
• 20 consecutive years in the playoffs
• 3rd longest winning streak in N.C.
• Won 7 Conference Championships
• 6 District titles
• 3 Sectional championships
• 2 regional championships
• 2 state championship appearances
• Finished first or second in the conference 16 of 20 years
• 1997 Eastern North Carolina Champions
• 1997 AAA State Championship Game
• 2008 State Semi-Finals
• Won 10-plus games seven seasons
• Won 180 games at Northeast Guilford
• Won 226 games as a Head Coach
• Was among the top 10 most wins among active coaches
• 10 Coach of the Year Awards
• 2003 Shrine Bowl Defensive Coordinator (N.C. defeated S.C.)
• 2000 East-West All Star Game Defensive Coordinator for the West (West defeated the East)
• 2000-2005 North Carolina Football Coaches Association Board of Directors
• 2007-Present National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame Board Member
• Speaker at a number of clinics including: Wake Forest; East Carolina; Appalachian State; Catawba College
• 1987-1993 Head Football Coach & Athletic Director Trinity High
• 1984-87 Head Football Coach & Athletic Director South Caldwell High School,1979-1980
• Graduate Assistant Football Coach Appalachian State University
• 1978-1979 Assistant Football Coach Watauga High School, State Champions 1978
• 1976-1978 Assistant Football Coach Carroll County High School, Hillsville, VA
• Playing experience Defensive Back, Appalachian State