West Iredell has hired former Alexander Central assistant Matt Wilson as its next head football coach.
Wilson expressed excitement Wednesday when asked about landing his first high school football head coaching job at West Iredell.
“Every time I was there you just got that feeling in your gut. It’s the good Lord saying this is going to be home,” Wilson said. “When they offered me the job it was a no-brainer.”
Wilson served the previous 10 seasons in Taylorsville, the last eight of which he was the head JV coach and varsity offensive coordinator. He replaces Shannon Ashley as the Warriors’ head coach and will be their fourth head coach since longtime West Iredell head coach Mark Weycker left following the conclusion of the 2012 season.
Ashley stepped down because he plans to retire in June, according to West Iredell athletic director Mickey Jordan. The Warriors were 2-13 in Ashley’s two seasons at the helm.
“I can tell the administration wants to bring excitement back to football,” Wilson said. “There is strong community support and strong support from the administration. You put those two things together and there’s a foundation for a strong football program.”
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The 35-year-old Appalachian State graduate is very familiar with the area. He grew up in Catawba County. Newton-Conover is his high school alma mater.
Wilson played for and coached with Nick Bazzle, a veteran high school football coach who led Newton-Conover to a state championship in 2008.
Of course, Bazzle is much more than a mentor to him.
“He’s my father, my hero,” Wilson said. “Growing up as a head coach’s son, choosing an occupation was pretty easy for me. I saw the influence he had on the lives of young men.”
During his tenure as Alexander Central JV coach, Wilson’s teams finished with a 67-8 record in eight seasons. A 47-game winning streak that included five straight unbeaten campaigns was part of that overall record. The winning streak ran from 2015 until it was snapped early last season.
As the varsity offensive coordinator, he led an Alexander Central offense that set a school record for points (525) scored in a season in 2016, and in a single game with 82. He coordinated the Cougar offense that set the NCHSAA record for rushing yards (801) and total yards (927) in a game on Sept. 16, 2016, at Ashe County—an 82-42 Cougars victory.
“Coach Matt Wilson will be a very successful head football coach,” Alexander Central head coach Butch Carter told the Taylorsville Times. “We are grateful for the time, effort, and passion that he has given to our football program at ACHS. We wish him great success and support in this new chapter of his coaching career.”
The Warriors have not had a winning season since going 6-5 in 2011 and have only qualified for the state playoffs twice (2017, 2019) over the last decade.
As far as Wilson in concerned, that is not up for discussion. The past is the past. Time to move forward, he said.
“I’m stressing positivity every day and asking them to have a high level of self-respect,” he said.
“Anybody that’s ever met me knows I bring a lot of passion, a lot of energy. I have a mindset to grow. So far the kids have embraced that and the fact that every day we’re going to challenge them.”
The Taylorsville Times contributed to this article.