McCormick Chiefs head football coach Brian Neal has been hired as the new head football coach at 4-A Aiken High School after leading the Chiefs to the 1-A state title game last year.
Neal’s hiring was made official Thursday. Neal leaves behind a McCormick team which had a remarkable two-year turnaround under Neal. In 2010, the Chiefs went 3-8 and went 3-9 in 2011, Neal’s first year. Last season, the Chiefs went 11-3 and made an appearance in the 1-A state championship game, garnering Neal the 1-A Coach of the Year award.
Neal explained that the decision to leave McCormick and go to Aiken was a very difficult one.
“It was a tough decision,” Neal said in a phone interview. “McCormick has been great to me and my family. They took us in and treated us like family. I can’t say enough good things about the administrators, teachers, students and the entire McCormick community. They have all been great.”
Neal takes over a 4-A program at Aiken High School that has not had much recent success, winning just 15 games in the last four years. The Hornets have only posted one winning season since a three-year run of success from 2004 to 2006. Those struggles were not the result of a lackluster offense, but of a defense that has struggled to stop opponents in recent years. Neal is widely regarded as one of the best defensive coaches in the state.
Neal believes it is not his coaching prowess that has led to his success. As he explains, it has nothing to do with football at all.
“I care for the kids beyond football,” Neal said. “I hope that is what Aiken saw in me. I’m there to help the kids any way I can and do what I can to make them successful on and off the football field.”
Neal said he would begin his new job Monday. Prior to his two years at McCormick, Neal spent three years at North Myrtle Beach High School and more than a decade at Ninety Six High School.