Hoggard names new head football coach

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Craig Underwood. Photo courtesy John Crouch.
Craig Underwood. Photo courtesy John Crouch.

Hoggard High School graduate Craig Underwood was named head coach of the Vikings’ football program on Monday.

“I couldn’t be more excited, honored and blessed to have this opportunity,” said Underwood. “It is a place that’s very dear to me. It’s a place that I truly hold special in my heart. We have a tradition of excellence here and it’s my job to keep it going.”

Underwood served as lead assistant under former coach Scott Braswell–who announced his decision to step down last month–for the past nine years.

Related story: Hoggard’s Braswell steps down as football coach, will remain AD

“Craig [Underwood] has been a big part of the success we have had on special teams and defense for the last nine years,” said Braswell. “He did an outstanding job as interim head coach this past season while I was away. He is a great fit for our football program and very important to us.”

Underwood coached the 2011 and 2014 Mideastern Conference Defensive Players of the Year in linebackers Terry Caldwell, currently playing at Ole Miss, and Julius Reynolds, an early enrollee at North Carolina A&T.

“Craig is an outstanding history teacher, who interacts well with our faculty,” Braswell said. “He is also a strong role model for our student-athletes at Hoggard, who wants to make a difference in the lives of the young people he teaches and coaches.”

Braswell helped guide the Vikings to numerous conference championships during his 18 years on the sidelines, in addition to an undefeated season and state title in 2007. Braswell missed a majority of the 2014 season after being diagnosed with chordoma, a rare cancer that forms in the spine. Hoggard played inspired football under the leadership of Underwood during Braswell’s absence and rode his return to an appearance in the 4A East Regional Final.

“I think the overall organization  of this program through the years helped me during the transition to interim coach during Coach Braswell’s unfortunate absence,” Underwood said. “It was a pretty smooth process and it gave me the chance to affirm that I want to a head coach and not only a head coach, but the head coach at Hoggard when Coach Braswell decided it was time.

“I have to thank my wife. She is my number one supporter. She is at every Hoggard event. I couldn’t do it without her. My kids love going to games on Friday night so I have a lot of support from the Hoggard family and most importantly, my immediate family.

Underwood becomes the fourth new football coach in the area this year. Former Hoggard assistant coach Jeff Turner took over the reigns at Ashley High School in late January. Earl Smith was introduced as the new coach at New Hanover High School in mid-February, while Larry Brock was named the new North Brunswick football coach last week.