Yarbrough leaves Wheatmore football post

Wheatmore coach Philip Yarbrough, left, talks with quarterback Ben Walker during a 2021 game. (Randolph Record file photo)

TRINITY – Philip Yarbrough called it a move that he agonized about before resigning as Wheatmore’s football coach after seven seasons and 13 total years as a coach at the school.

But family matters and professional pursuits led him to the conclusion to step down.

“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “Going to take a step back and catch my breath. There’s a lot going on that I thought it was best for the program. … This is, by far, the hardest decision I’ve ever made. Let somebody else give their full attention to the football team.”

Yarbrough, who has two preschool children, is pursuing a school administration license.

The Warriors went 9-3 and 12-2 in the first two years under Yarbrough before five straight losing seasons. That includes 2-8 records in each of the past two seasons for a 34-37 overall mark.

“That was just a perfect convergence,” he said of the early success. “That was so much fun. This last rebuild has been equally as fun and satisfying. Even though the wins haven’t been there, the improvement has been. I’ve given it my best shot.”

Yarbrough was Wheatmore’s wrestling coach from 2011-21. That stint included five regional championships and four individual state titles (with three different wrestlers).

As for the football team, Yarbrough said a potential breakthrough with next season’s senior class made stepping aside even more difficult.

“I think they’re primed to have a really good year,” he said. “There’s not going to be a bigger fan (than me).”

New energy and fresh ideas from a new coach might be good for the Warriors, Yarbrough said.

“I’m leaving a really great situation – really great (players), a really great administration, really great parents,” he said. “I’m so grateful and so blessed to have been there 13 years.”

A 2005 Central Davison alum, he’s taking a teaching position at Central Davidson Middle School and will spend more time in his hometown. He’ll finish at Wheatmore on Feb. 28.

Former athletics director Rick Halo, who was Yarbrough’s defensive coordinator for five seasons, has been named interim coach.

Yarbrough, 37, said he doesn’t rule out a return to coaching prior to stepping into administration. Either way, he said there’s lots to savor from his time with the Warriors.

“The highlights for me have been the relationships you build,” he said. “We’ve had former athletes back on the (coaching) staff. Just looking at how many kids I coached who are now coaching.”

By Bob Sutton