New football coach named for Southern Alamance

By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

Tony McCants, who coached McMichael’s football team in neighboring Rockingham County for the past four seasons, has been hired as Southern Alamance’s new coach.

He’ll fill the vacancy that came from superintendent Dr. Dain Butler’s early November firing of Fritz Hessenthaler.

“This was a difficult decision and not one I took lightly,” McCants posted to a personal social media account Tuesday night. “I will miss my McMichael family.”

McMichael had a 5-5 record last season. In the first three seasons under McCants, the Phoenix went 2-6, 7-4 and 7-4. Most recently, McMichael has been a Class 2-A school.

Before McCants arrived as head coach, McMichael had been without a winning season since 2008.

The Phoenix went 0-2 in state playoff games under McCants. There was a 2021 loss to Burns and then a 2022 setback to Providence Grove, which had never won a postseason football game until that outcome.

Hessenthaler was in his sixth season with a 48-18 record when he was removed as Southern’s coach. The Patriots went 9-1 under Hessenthaler in 2023 before he was dismissed the week of the opening round of the Class 3-A state playoffs. Southern won three postseason games before the team was eliminated.

Longtime assistant coach Chris Miller had been the interim coach at Southern. No members of the Southern coaching staff were interviewed for the position, according to several people familiar with staff members.

Based on a sampling of Southern assistant coaches Tuesday night, they weren’t familiar with McCants or knew of any connections between staff members and the newly named coach.