DUBLIN — Just two weeks after the resignation of Joe Salas as the West Bladen High football coach, the Knights have a new head coach.
Grady “Russell” Dove, an assistant with the Knights for the past few years, was approved this week by the Bladen County Board of Education to replace Salas.
“I definitely feel ready for this,” Dove said. “I’ve worked with some good coaches over the years — Coach Marlowe, Coach Byrd and Coach Salas — and learned a lot of football, so it feels like the right time.”
Toni Warrick, principal at West Bladen, is happy to see Dove assume the position of head coach.
“He’s the right guy,” she said. “He really cares about the kids and the program. He’s been coaching a long time and knows what to do on the coaching side — but not I think he’s ready to take on the whole thing.”
Dove said he’s looking forward to the challenges ahead with the 2013 Knights.
“There’s a lot of youth, but there’s also some good talent,” he said. “A lot of things are in place, but what needs to be worked on is the mental aspect. That’s the biggest challenge … convincing the kids that, when they put on the jersey, they should go out and expect to win. We just need to work on the confidence factor.”
Dove added that, with an assistant position open, he’s not sure how that position will get filled.
“It’s all still pretty new, so I’m not sure if I’ll be looking from within or we’ll be able to go outside the program,” he said. “That’s still up in the air right now.”
Dove is a 1989 graduate of Bladenboro High, where he played football, basketball and baseball. He went on to play football at Elon College before transferring to The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in education.
Prior to coming to West Bladen High three years ago, Dove spent six years at West Columbus High, where he served as an assistant coach for football and head coach for track.
Warrick says she is confident that Dove will be with the program for some time to come.
“I think he’ll be here a while to give us some stability in the program and at the school,” she said.
Dove, who is the son of Gloria Dove Allen and the late Grady Dove, is married to Billie Dove and the couple have two sons.