Van Smith was still looking for a new offensive coordinator when he got a notification from a friend one Monday morning in the middle of the exam period at Orange High School. The friend alerted the head football coach of the Panthers that Marty Scotten was possibly looking for a coaching change.
Smith quickly sat down at his computer and fired off an email to Scotten—and in less than 30 minutes Smith had gotten a reply in his inbox as negotiations started to heat up.
“Later that afternoon we called each other and talked and he came in that same week and we talked face-to-face and talked to our principal and things got in motion that quick,” Smith said.
Just like that, Scotten joined forces with Smith after 23 years and over 100 wins as head coach of Jordan Matthews High School in Siler City.
“I’ve been looking for a while, but I didn’t really find anything I liked,” Scotten said. “But when he told me this job and what it entailed and everything, I said, ‘You know, I think that’s for me.’ This was the right place at the right time for me.”
The two coaches have a history, having known each other for around 20 years. When Smith was an assistant at Graham High School, his team faced Scotten’s squad at Jordan Matthews. Smith was impressed by Scotten’s coaching style then, which he feels will fit well with the Panthers.
“He’s a running football coach and that kind of fits who we are and what we like to do,” Smith said. “We’ve kind of gotten away from that the last couple years for various and sundry reasons and kind of getting back to what fits our personnel and type of player we have and that’s what he knows, what he’s about and what he’s always been like.”
Scotten will have his first chance to coach the offense when Orange High heads to Burlington to face Hugh M. Cummings High School Wednesday night. Although new to the team, Scotten has been impressed by what he’s seen ahead of that 7-on-7 contest, especially in the weight room.
"For what we want to do, kind of a power running attack, that is imperative,” Scotten said. “You’ve got to lift and be strong and I think these kids are willing to work hard and do that. So I really think it fits in good with what kind of kids they have here.”
In his short time at Orange High, Scotten has enjoyed not having to worry about head coaching duties, instead just focusing on the team’s offensive personnel for the first time in 23 years.
“Not having head coaching duties is wonderful," Scotten said. "I’m not saying I’d never do it again, but I sure am enjoying not doing it. Just being an assistant coach, offensive coordinator, has been fantastic so far. I’ve really enjoyed it.”
With the regular season just under two months away, Scotten will have plenty more time to enjoy assistant duties and grow more familiar with his new team before Orange faces R.J. Reynolds High School on Aug. 30.