One of the state’s best: Meet The Charlotte Observer’s boys’ prep coach of the year

Weddington High School’s Andy Capone, the Charlotte Observer’s boys’ coach of the year, said there is one secret to his success:

“Stay out of the way,” he said. “You’ve got to trust what you believe and trust your kids to do what they’re doing. Our staff is the best I could ever ask for. You can know everything you can but if your kids don’t know it, it doesn’t matter. So for us, it’s just keep believing in what you do, always looking to get better. If you stay true to yourself, and stay true to your beliefs, I think you’ll be successful.”

In the past six seasons, few N.C. high school coaches — in any sport — have been as successful as Capone.

He’s 77-8 coaching the Warriors’ football team, including 32-2 in conference play, with three state championships.

Weddington won the 3AA state title in 2018 and 2019. Last year, the Warriors won the state title in North Carolina’s toughest classification, 4A, beating past state champions like Chambers, Charlotte Catholic, Greensboro Grimsley and Independence on their way to the finals.

In all, Weddington won six playoff games by an average score of 38-14. And with the Warriors returning many of those state championship players this fall, they should start the 2024 season as the favorite to repeat in NCHSAA 4A.

“I don’t think I’ve built anything,” Capone said. “I got put in a really good spot from coach (Tim) Carson who started it, and we’re blessed to have a great community of good players, good athletes and great parents who support us and believe in what we do.”

Capone was hired in January 2018 to replace Carson, who left for a job in South Carolina. In seven seasons at Weddington, Carson’s teams never had a losing season and won the 2016 N.C. 3AA state championship.

Capone — a Sun Valley High and Appalachian State graduate — has extended that streak of seasons without a losing record, and doesn’t appear ready to slow down anytime soon.

The Warriors finished runner-up to Providence Day in The Observer’s Sweet 16 regional poll last season and in the McClatchy newspapers’ top 25 ranking of the top teams in North and South Carolina.

In the newspaper’s “Way Too Early” Sweet 16 poll, released in the spring, the Warriors were No. 1, looking ahead to the 2024 season.

They are in the spotlight now.

“If you get on the message boards, we’re the best recruiters around,” Capone said. “I think, at end of day, we know we belong where we are and we believe we belong, and I hope our kids continue to get the recognition they deserve for their success.

“People don’t realize how good Union County football is. I get it, it’s not Charlotte-Meck, but our kids belong and I think we can compete with everybody and we showed that. And the big thing is, we’ve shown that consistently. Whether it be 3A or 4A, we’re there in the end and we always feel like we have a chance.”