Lee County’s Cates to coach N.C. Shrine Bowl team

Feb. 09, 2013 @ 08:57 PM

Lee County head coach Burton Cates will coach North Carolina for the second time of his 28 years as a high school football coach in the 77th Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, set for Dec. 21 in Spartanburg, S.C.

Cates coached the North Carolina squad against South Carolina’s senior all-stars in 1999.

“First of all, it’s an honor,” Cates said. “All of the coaches around the two states have great respect for the Shrine Bowl and the work it does raising money for the hospital.”

Cates said he learned of the role last week and a wider announcement was made during an annual statewide coaches’ clinic in Greensboro Friday.

“We met as a staff (Saturday) morning in Greensboro and we’ve already started to get to work,” Cates said.

The assistant coaches are Phil Tate of Belmont South Point, who Cates coached with in the 1995 East-West Game; Darryl Brown of Southern Guilford; Robert Cody of Plymouth; Blair Hardin of Porter Ridge; Mark Little of West Columbus and Randy Raper of Northern Nash.

In his fourth season leading Lee County, Cates led a turnaround from a 4-6 record by the Yellow Jackets in 2011 to a 9-4 mark this past fall, including 6-2 in Lee County’s last season in the Tri-Nine Conference. The Yellow Jackets reached the second round of the NCHSAA State Playoffs — their second state trip in the last three seasons.

“I’m fortunate to have great assistant coaches and great players who I’ve had the privilege of coaching,” Cates said. “So all the credit goes to them.”

For this past December’s Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, 44 of the top senior players in the state made up the North Carolina team. The process of forming the 2013 team starts soon. There will be a series combines held from March to June. The North Carolina coaching staff will have extra work all year long. There’s one main way, Cates said, that it’s easier now than all the way back in the last century.

“The internet helps us immensely. We didn’t really have that in 1999 as a tool to use,” he said.

Coaches will use and share videos and information online as part of selecting the N.C. roster.

South Carolina won last year’s game 23-19. The game helped raise more than $1.2 million for 22 Shriners hospitals. Wofford’s Gibbs Stadium in Spartanburg will host the 77th Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.