The Forbush football program experienced arguably its best season in quite some time. But the Falcons will move on next season without the coach who guided the team for nearly a decade.
Chris Johnson, who has led the Falcons since 2010, will not be retained, Forbush announced in a statement from Yadkin County Schools on Thursday afternoon. A search has begun for a new coach for the 2020 season.
Principal Boomer Kennedy said Forbush looked to take the football program “in a different direction,” but he declined to comment on the details that led to the decision.
Johnson, 47, finishes his career at Forbush having compiled a 44-67 record in 10 seasons. But last season was the Falcons’ best in more than a decade.
Johnson led Forbush to a 7-5 record and an appearance in the NCHSAA Class 2-A playoffs, where the Falcons lost to powerhouse and eventual state champion Reidsville on Nov. 14.
The seven wins were the most in a season since Pat Mitchell led Forbush to an 11-2 mark in 2004. And Forbush faced injuries along the way — even Jacob Lounds, a nose tackle, took over at quarterback after starter Casey Graham injured an ACL on Sept. 13 in a non-conference loss to Starmount.
Johnson said the Falcons used just four of their defensive starters against Reidsville as well. He called it a “revolving door” at running back, receiver and quarterback throughout the season.
Johnson said he met with Kennedy and athletics director Matt Pruitt for a review of the season on Jan. 2. He was told early in the meeting that he would be let go. Johnson said he addressed the team on Wednesday in the high school’s auditorium.
“It was rewarding throughout the season seeing everyone’s reaction,” said Johnson, a P.E. teacher at the school. “Seeing our kids go from being a program that our plan was just to be competitive and watching them develop into a team that was winning and expecting to win.”
The job vacancy will be posted Friday, with the goal of making a hire by late February.
“There are things Coach Johnson did really well and things he could improve on,” Kennedy said. “... Wins and losses are obviously important but, at the same time, is not the only thing that we look at. Coach Johnson is a great person — he’s a great man, and he’s been dedicated to our program for the past 10 years.
“He’s very well-respected here are our school. You know, he’s a high-class and high-character guy. It was a very difficult decision to move in a different direction.”
Johnson arrived at Forbush after an 11-year tenure as defensive coordinator at Mount Airy. In that span, the Granite Bears reached the Class 1-A championship twice, claiming a title in 2008. Undefeated Mount Airy outscored opponents 843-94 that season.
Johnson said he would remain at Forbush for the remainder of the school year but will be searching for a new role.
“I’m not leaving bitter,” Johnson said. “I’m leaving, hoping the best for Forbush next year. That was my message to the kids.
“The guy who gets this job is going to inherit a talented group. The chance to not just win games, but win some conference championships, for Forbush is in the future.”