Paschal ready for a new challenge|Former Roanoke coach looking to right Vikings’ ship

Published 4:07 am Sunday, July 11, 2010

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
Brian Paschal knows he has his work cut out for him.
As the former football coach at Roanoke, a 1-A school that had no JV program and varsity roster that barely cracked 20, Paschal is used to facing uphill battles.
Despite his field-goal-kicker-thin rosters, Paschal was able to produce wins annually and make the occasional extended playoff run battling against coaches that faced the similar dilemmas.
After six years with the Redskins, Paschal decided it’s time for a new challenge. The coach packed his bags and headed to D.H. Conley, a 3-A school in Greenville. With roughly 100 9-12th graders coming out for football, it’s safe to say roster size is no longer an issue. However, putting an end to that 18-game losing streak might be a bit tricky.
Paschal said his first task as the Vikings’ coach is to change each player’s mindset.
“It’s not just about changing the culture, it’s about changing their work ethic,” Paschal said. “It’s about teaching all the intangibles of football like camaraderie and attitude. It’s all the little things.
Paschal said that the near two-season losing streak sounds worse than it is, and acknowledged that former Vikings’ coach Ken Whitehurst was a bit of a victim of circumstance.
“Ken Whitehurst is a good football coach, he has won everywhere he has been,” Paschal said. “They redistricted the schools in Greenville and he ended up with four kids in his senior class last year and two of them had knee injuries. … He may not have been successful but you can understand why. Now, the beneficiary is me because all those young kids that played last year are back … So it’s not as bleak as it seems.”
Paschal, who spent eight years coaching at the 3-A level at Washington High School’s football coach before going to the Redskins, said that he enjoyed his time at Roanoke but desired to get back to the 3-A classification.
“I love the 3-A level and really enjoyed coaching at that level in Washington. I’m thrilled to be back at that level because there are some real unique opportunities here. We got a full coaching staff, which I never had at Roanoke in six years. We got a JV program and possibly a ninth grade program, so you get a chance to develop the kids. There’s a full roster so there is competition at each spot. I think that is the biggest difference at a larger school, you actually have kids competing for jobs. Once you have that it certainly makes your life easier as a coach.”
Enrollment was both the key attraction to Conley, as well as the driving force behind his departure from Roanoke.
“Roanoke is a special place, I really liked that school,” Paschal said. “The problem was the enrollment kept dropping and dropping and it became a situation where it just wasn’t going to be that competitive of a school because the enrollment didn’t allow it. We had 150 males (from grades 9-12) and it just got so small it was hard to deal with. At that point you have to make a decision, and that’s what led me to Conley.
Since Paschal’s departure from Roanoke, the school has merged with Bear Grass to form the South Creak Cougars. At the same time, Paschal’s daughter Katie, a former Williamston star basketball player, will be playing at East Carolina University this fall, which is located in Greenville just a few minutes away from his office.
Paschal was quick to shoot down the notion that either one of those occurrences affected his decision to leave the Redskins.
“Absolutely not, it had nothing do with those things,” Paschal said. “It just had to do with an opportunity to go to a school that I think can really be a strong program.”
Despite the school’s recent struggles, Paschal firmly believes he can right the Vikings ship.
“The thing you have to look at, at D.H. Conley is that they win at ever single sport they play except football,” Paschal said. “They had a winning record in every sport, girls and boys, except football; so there are athletes in the school. There is something that is going on in the other sports that is not making the transition to football, and that’s where we have to make a connection.”
After leaving the newly formed Four Rivers Conference, formally know as the Atlantic Conference, where the wing-T was widely used for so many years, Paschal now finds himself in the Coastal Conference, where each team runs some variety of a spread attack.
Paschal said that he does not intend to change his playbook, which could be a distinct advantage in his first year because the defenses in the conference are not used to defending it.
“We’re a wing-T team, I don’t know anything else,” Paschal said. “I don’t think anybody else runs it anymore, they’re all hooked on the spread. … It’s a hard offense to corral, and our personnel really fits the system. … I’m just really excited about it.”