Pender High hires Tom Eanes as football coach

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PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A familiar face is returning to the sidelines at Pender High School.

Tom Eanes has been hired as the Patriots’ new football coach, reuniting the veteran coach with the school where he had his most success.

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Back in December, Tim Smith stepped down as head coach.

“I was excited but it didn’t really hit me until I walked in the doors and the kids came in and you start talking about some of the old guys that were here once before and played,” Eanes said. “These were the greatest young men I ever coached in my life at Pender High, and I always wanted to get back to that. I was so fortunate that it worked out and they gave me this opportunity.”

A Mocksville product and 1978 graduate of Elon, Eanes coached at five schools in North Carolina before arriving in Burgaw in 2004. After back-to-back 4-8 seasons to begin his tenure, Eanes guided the Patriots to new heights, going 50-16 over the next five years with a trip to the 1AA East Region final in 2007 and a berth in the 2010 1AA State Championship.

In 31 years as a head coach, Eanes has notched 164 wins with stops at nine different schools throughout the Tar Heel state. Most recently, he led Bandys High School in Catawba for two years, including a 12-2 mark in 2018.

“Coach Eanes is a known as a program builder. Over his career, he’s brought so many programs to new heights, including here at Pender during his first stint,” Pender High athletic director Matt Davis said. “We’re looking forward to seeing him help our program get back to where it was when he left, and we certainly believe he can do that.”

Eanes was approved at Tuesday’s Pender County Board of Education meeting and got the opportunity to introduce himself to the Patriots on Friday. He inherits a program coming off a 2-9 effort in 2019 with seven straight losing seasons. After going 12-3 under Eanes in 2010, the Patriots have only one non-losing season (6-6 in 2012) and have eight years with eight or more losses.

Helping the Patriots return to winning form is a challenge that excites Eanes for 2020.

“It’s like I told the kids – if you don’t enjoy the process, it won’t be as much fun because you’ve got to enjoy the film, you’ve got to enjoy the weight room. Everybody gets tired and it’s a grind sometimes, but if you put all those things together, once you reach your goals it’s so rewarding to do that,” Eanes said.