By Tim Gardner
Mac Bryan, head football coach at Avery County High School in Newland the past four seasons, has submitted his resignation from the post, according to Avery Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman.
Bryan compiled a 10-29 record at Avery from 2018 through 2021. That includes a 2-9 mark in 2018; a 5-7 tally in 2019; 2-3 in the COVID-shortened/ postponed 2020 season to the spring of 2021; and a 1-10 mark this past 2021 full season.
Bryan posted a 4-16 record in Western Highlands Conference play as the Vikings head coach.
One of Bryan’s top achievements at Avery was helping mold Mitchell High transfer Troy Hoilman into one of the State of North Carolina’s most prolific prep passing quarterbacks through his tutelage of the already highly-talented passer and Hoilman playing in Bryan’s Spread Offense that featured much passing.
Hoilman earned a walk-on position on the Wake Forest University football team.
“I appreciate the time, effort and energy Coach Bryan put into Avery High’s football program and I wish him the very best,” said Dr. Brigman, who added that Bryan will remain as a physical education teacher at the school for the time being.
Dr. Brigman added that the Avery School System has already began accepting applications for a new Avery High head football coach and that he would like a new head coach to be hired by the end of January 2022.
Bryan has an extensive and varied coaching background. He has had tenures at fourteen schools on various levels, including a highly-successful one as Lees-McRae College’s head coach, and as a head coach at six high schools.
After playing football at Appalachian State University from 1978-80 and then serving as a graduate assistant coach there for the next two seasons (’81-’82), Bryan began his career as a head coach (and athletics director) at West Wilkes High in Millers Creek, NC in 1983 at age 23. West Wilkes and Avery were members of the Blue Ridge 2-A Conference at that time.
Bryan’s West Wilkes team defeated Avery the one season he was head coach there.
Bryan was next Assistant Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator and Offensive Line coach at Lees-McRae during the 1984-85 seasons, before becoming its head coach for five seasons (1986-90).
While head coach at Lees McRae, which discontinued its football program after the 1994 season, Bryan took his Bobcats to five straight bowl games and was the National Junior College Athletic Association Region 10 Coach of the Year three times (1986-88). Lees-McRae was ranked Number 1 in the final NJCAA regular-season poll in 1987 and played for the National Championship.
Bryan compiled a 44-10-1 record as Lees-McRae’s head coach, including 39-5-1 his first four years.
He then became an assistant coach at Southern Mississippi University for three seasons (1991-93).
Bryan was next head coach at Boiling Springs, South Carolina High from 1994-99. He led Boiling Springs to eight wins in 1996, most in school history as a member of Class 4-A and most in any classification since 1965.
In 2000, Bryan served as Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator at Pikeville, Kentucky College.
Bryan then served three seasons (2001-’03) as an assistant at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
He was next an assistant at Newberry College for one season (2004).
Bryan then returned to the prep ranks as head coach for one season (2005) at Emerald High School in Greenville, SC. He led Emerald to an 11-3 record and the Upper State finals after the school was only 2-9 the previous season.
Bryan next served as the head football coach at Pikeville College—now known as the University of Pikeville– for three seasons, from 2006 to 2008, compiling a 10–22 record.
He was head coach at Enka High in Candler, NC, located near Asheville, and posted a 4-7 record in one season (2009) there.
Bryan then was an assistant at the University of Tennessee-Martin from 2010-12, where he was Co-Offensive Coordinator and Offensive Line coach.
From 2013 through 2017, Bryan was head coach at Ooltewah (Tenn.) High School before getting hired by Avery County. He posted a 45-16 record during his tenure with Ooltewah, and led his teams to the state playoffs every single season.
Bryan has a 161-142-1 overall high school head coaching record.
He replaced Jason Phelps, who won six games in three seasons (2015, ’16 and ’17), as Avery’s head coach.