For Chris Haddock, being named the new head football coach at Centreville High School is a homecoming of sorts because of his longtime ties to the area.
"My parents still live in the house I grew up in," said Haddock, born and raised in Centreville.
Haddock, who was officially named the Wildcats' new coach last Wednesday, March 3, is anxious to begin the re-building process for a storied football program which has fallen on tough times in recent years. He replaces Gerry Pannoni, who guided the Wildcats the past three years.
Centreville went 6-5 and qualified for the Northern Region playoffs in Pannoni's first season in the fall of 2007. But the Wildcats, members of the Concorde District, followed that up with disappointing 1-9 and 3-7 records in '08 and '09, respectively — the football program's only losing campaigns in its 20-year history. Centreville's past success includes six district titles and three region crowns.
Haddock, who helped rebuild the Fairfax High football program as the Rebels' head coach the past three years, gives Centreville a fresh start following two lean years. He has a bright outlook on the prospects of the program returning to its winning ways.
"I've considered Centreville one of the elite programs for a long time and am very excited to join the ranks," said Haddock. "I still think it's a [football program] with great potential."
Mike Campbell, Centreville High principal, is thrilled to have Haddock coming aboard.
"We are delighted to have Chris Haddock join the staff at Centreville High School," stated Campbell, in an e-mail earlier this week. "He has proven that he is a winner and rebuilt the program at Fairfax and took them to the playoffs in his third year. We felt he was the perfect fit because he lives in the Centreville community, has coached multiple sports and communicates well with the student-athletes. He was just hired last week and has met with kids, parents and the booster club."
Haddock, currently a social studies teacher at Fairfax High, has already become a visible presence in the Centreville High athletics community.
"He is throwing batting practice this week to our baseball team and attended several of our basketball games," said Campbell. "I know the students, parents and community are very excited to have Chris on board as the new coach."
<b>HADDOCK</b>, who grew up playing sports within the Southwestern Youth Association, is a 1988 graduate of Chantilly High School, where he competed athletically in football, basketball and baseball. He was part of a Chargers' basketball team that upset South Lakes in a first round Northern Region playoff game in 1988. That South Lakes squad featured future NBA star Grant Hill, the best player to ever come out of the region. Chantilly went as far as the region final four that postseason before losing to eventual state AAA champion Lee High (Springfield).
He went on to attend Hampden-Sydney College (Va.) where he competed athletically in both football and baseball and earned a bachelor's degree in history. Haddock, a 1993 graduate of Hampden-Sydney, went on earn his master's degree in education at George Mason University.
He has coached high school sports within Fairfax County for the past 15 years. He spent a year at W.T. Woodson before returning to his alma mater — Chantilly — for 11 years. There, Haddock spent several football seasons as the Chargers' defensive coordinator. Chantilly head football coaches over those years were Dan Meier, Bob Herb and Ken Kincaid.
Haddock was part of Meier's coaching staff that led the Chargers to the state AAA title in 1996.
"He was a great mentor," said Haddock, of Meier, who is currently the principal at Robinson High School. "He had been very successful [as head football coach] at West Potomac prior to arriving at Chantilly. He brought a winning attitude and philosophy."
One of Haddock's fondest memories of being a part of the Chantilly football coaching staff was working with fellow assistant Fred Welch, who was the head coach at Chantilly when Haddock played there. Haddock, during his high school career, played in the Chargers' defensive secondary for two varsity seasons.
Haddock served as an assistant baseball coach at Chantilly from 1993 through 2000 before taking the helm as head coach of the program for the next four years. Twice, he led the Chargers to the region baseball playoffs.
Over the past six years Haddock has coached within the Fairfax High football program. He was defensive coordinator on head coach Mat Shannon's staff for a few years before becoming the Rebels' head coach in 2007. Fairfax got better and better over his three seasons as head coach, going from 2-8 in '07 to 4-6 in '08 to 6-5 and a trip to the region playoffs last season.
"I had a great experience," said Haddock, of his time as head coach at Fairfax. "This is a great place and I worked with a lot of great kids and people. It was great to see Fairfax football get better every year. We made the playoffs last year and that was great for the kids and the school."
Haddock credited his players at Fairfax with turning the program around.
"The kids here worked very hard," said Haddock, whose final game as the Fairfax head coach was a 19-14 playoff loss to eventual Div. 6 region champion Lake Braddock. "[The program] had been struggling to win. To see them have the success last year was exciting."
Fairfax, during Haddock's first two years as head coach in 2007 and 2008, competed in the Concorde District, known as one of the toughest district's in the state. The Rebels were moved to the Liberty District in 2009.
<b>NOW</b>, as the new coach at Centreville, Haddock is back in the Concorde which consists of several schools which have known vast football success, such as Robinson, Westfield, Chantilly and Oakton.
"I've spent most of my career coaching in the Concorde District so I'm familiar with the schools, the teams and the district," said Haddock. "I'm very much looking forward to getting back in that atmosphere."
Haddock met his new team last Thursday.
"There was a nice turnout [of players] and I think the kids were excited to see a new face and maybe hear a different message," he said.
Haddock said Centreville will run out of the run-oriented Wing T formation next fall.
"I've always liked to play a physical brand of football," he said. "Defense needs to be the backbone and we need to be aggressive. On offense we'll run first and pass second."
He believes success at running the football and playing hard-nosed defense is a winning formula.
"When the weather changes [and it gets cold] it's a philosophy that will work," he said.
Indeed, the future looks bright again for a Centreville High football program that has been troubled by a couple of down years.
"Coach Haddock will bring a ton of enthusiasm, tradition and experience to Centreville football," said Jimmy Sanabria, Centreville's director of student activities. "He is a coach who leads by example and will be an outstanding role model to the kids and other coaches at Centreville. I really think he bleeds black and blue."