By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
It’s like going home for Tony Aguilar even though the school where he’ll be coaching hasn’t even opened its doors.
The former Eastern Alamance assistant coach is leaving his head-coaching position at Eastern Guilford to become the first football coach at soon-to-open Southeast Alamance.
“The main selling point is that it’s eight minutes from my house and it’s the community I live in,” Aguilar said of making the job change.
Aguilar was on Eastern Alamance’s football staff for 20 years, with the last 14 of those as offensive coordinator after overseeing receivers. He spent the last four seasons at Eastern Guilford.
Southeast Alamance’s first home game will be at Orange. The Stallions’ home opener will come against Eastern Alamance in the second week of the 2023 season. The other eight games will be in the Mid-Carolina Conference, which has Class 1-A and Class 2-A schools, including Cummings and Graham.
Much of this will be familiar territory for Aguilar because most of the student body at Southeast will be comprised of students currently in the Eastern Alamance and Southern Alamance zones.
He said he’s intrigued by being part of something so new.
“That’s going to be the neat part,” he said. “A lot of schools have traditions and the way they do things. We won’t have any of that. It’s kind of cool building something from the ground up.”
Aguilar said he doesn’t have a clear picture of what Southeast’s first roster might look like. He said it’s encouraging that Hawfields Middle School, where many students will come from, went undefeated in 2022.
“Probably playing a lot of freshmen and a lot of sophomores and jumping into a varsity schedule,” he said. “The people I coached at Eastern Alamance, a lot of (the players), it’s their kids.”
Aguilar’s time with Eastern Guilford resulted in a 27-16 record. His first team went 6-6, followed by records of 5-2, 7-3 and 9-5.
“We had a great run at EG and accomplished a lot,” he said.
Aguilar said leaving Eastern Guilford, where he became in charge of a football program for the first time, wasn’t an easy decision. His name has been circulating for months regarding a potential connection to the Southeast position.
“I’ve heard that nobody is surprised,” he said. “This process has been long.”
Beginning a new program might have similarities to when Eastern launched boys’ lacrosse. Aguilar was the coach, and he said that experience could be a bonus.
“I’m going to rely on that,” he said.
Aguilar, 46, said he’s working on putting together a coaching staff. He said several Eastern Guilford staff members might stay with the Wildcats, though he’ll wait to see how that pans out.
“I’ll be ready to assemble a staff,” he said. “I will be looking hard and heavy for good teachers and coaches.”
Aguilar will work a few more weeks at Eastern Guilford and then take a position after spring break in April as an exceptional children’s teacher at Hawfields Middle School. He said that should be a good opportunity to meet some of Southeast’s future students.
Beginning in August, his teaching role at Southeast will be overseeing weight-lifting.
In some ways, Aguilar will be re-introduced at 6:30 p.m. March 23 at Hawfields Middle School, where a “Meet the Coach” night is scheduled for potential Southeast students and parents.
The 2022 Eastern Guilford team won three games – all on the road – in the Class 3-A state playoffs. The Wildcats ended second in their conference on the Class 3-A level the past two seasons behind Greensboro Dudley.
Aguilar’s first two seasons at Eastern Guilford were in the Mid-Piedmont Conference, which included Williams and Southern Alamance. Eastern Guilford went 2-0 vs. Williams and 0-2 vs. Southern.
This past season, the Wildcats lost to both Western Alamance and Williams in non-conference road games.