When South County’s Mike Pflugrath resigned his position as a team leader within the school’s Social Studies department, longtime associate Wendell Johnson filled the void.
Then, when Pflugrath, who previously served as the South County boys basketball coach, was tabbed as the school’s new Director of Student Activities on Sept. 8, there was another vacancy that Johnson would eventually fill, though he didn’t know it at the time.
On Tuesday, the South County athletic department announced Johnson’s hiring as the successor to Pflugrath, who had served as the Stallions’ coach since the school opened in 2005 but relinquished the position upon becoming the new DSA.
“I had been a part of the program since we started here, and I was excited for the opportunity to continue on,” Johnson said. “I’ve worked with Mike for several years, so hopefully I can pick up where he left off. I think that’s a good place to start.”
Johnson started his coaching career as a freshman coach at Woodson in 1996. He moved from Woodson to Oakton for two years and then back Woodson as a varsity assistant.
Johnson spent a few years coaching overseas and eventually returned -- once again -- to Woodson and was reunited with Pflugrath.
“I was the bad penny they couldn’t get rid of,” Johnson joked.
<b>JOHNSON INHERITS</b> a team that finished 7-16 overall, 3-9 in the Patriot District last season. The Stallions were eliminated by Annandale, 80-69, in the quarterfinals of the district tournament.
With the departure of talented center Chris Panneton, Johnson also inherits a team that has more talent away from the basket than it has near it.
“We’re going to have a team where our strength this year is going to be our guard play, where last year we had a real big presence inside,” Brown said. “Now we have seniors that have been guards for a couple years, so I’ll put the ball in their hands a little bit.”
And that was the most important thing, according to Pflugrath, quickly getting the ball in the players’ hands. The new DSA knew what Johnson could offer and he also knew that it’s now October. With the Stallions’ first scrimmage scheduled for Nov. 18, a familiar hire with a proven track record was an easy decision for Pflugrath.
“I think it’s really a benefit to the kids that we have someone in here that can have some consistency for them,” said Pflugrath, who coached previously at Woodson and carries a 115-87 career record. “There’ll be a lot of the same terminology and the same things will continue on.”