The sports landscape at Greenbrier West High School will look a little different for the 2019-20 season.
Longtime boys basketball coach Joey Fitzwater stepped down to take the head boys basketball job at Western Greenbrier Middle School, while head football coach David Witt has stepped down as the head football coach after two seasons.
Tuesday afternoon, the Greenbrier County Board of Education announced the hiring of Toby Harris as the new head football coach and Jared Robertson was chosen to move from assistant basketball coach to head coach.
Robertson will stay on as athletic director in addition to coaching basketball.
“I love coaching. I love helping kids and I love the game (of basketball). I guess I can stand up now and yell at the refs with no one telling me that I can’t, is the way I look at it,” Robertson said, laughing.
Robertson’s history at Greenbrier West made him the logical choice to take over the boys program.
The new head coach was the point guard on the team that defeated Williamson to win the 1992 Class AA state championship. He later attended Virginia Tech and graduated in 1997 with a degree in biochemistry.
Robertson worked as a chemist for 15 years before obtaining his master’s degree in education from Marshall University in 2013 and moved over to the teaching profession.
His coaching experience includes 13 years as an assistant basketball coach at the high school level and five years as an assistant on the football staff. He also coached three years at the middle school, two years as an assistant and one as the head coach.
Robertson will have his hands full in year one with a team hit hard by graduation.
Among the graduates were first-team all-state guard Noah Midkiff and 6-foot-8 twin brothers Collin and Riley O’Dell, who helped lead the Cavaliers back to the state basketball tournament for the first time since that 1992 state championship.
“Very seldom do Class A schools have all the pieces where you have a good point guard, kids that can shoot and good size,” Robertson explained.
“We had a great year last year and I am really proud of them. But that may be the one time that will happen for Greenbrier West in many years.”
“But we have a few kids coming back that have played,” Robertson added. “We also have a lot of young kids that are excited and are hard workers. I think the kids are excited. Most people think we are going to be terrible because we lost a lot and I think they already have a chip on their shoulder about that.”
Harris’ return to the sideline is a blast from the past. The veteran was the first football coach in the history of the Greenbrier West program from 1968-1977. Harris also coached one season at Greenbrier High School in 1967 and two seasons at Oak Hill from 2005-2007.
In his first stint in Charmco, Harris compiled a 65-35-1 record, twice leading the Cavaliers to the playoffs. He coached 28 all-state players and his teams held opponents to less than 75 points per season in five of his 10 seasons.
“I think coach Harris has a wealth of experience. He has done a lot of good things for our school and our community over a long period of time,” Robertson said. “He is very excited to have another chance to coach football. My hope is that everyone will get behind him and we will see what we can do. Coach Harris was very successful when he was here before.”
The Cavaliers could be a team to watch this year with a solid core of returning players.
“We have a ton (of kids) coming back. We lost a few good football players, but, in my five years as a football coach, this is the most returning kids that we have had at West,” Robertson said. “I think we have a chance to be pretty good. Our record wasn’t great last year, but we were better than our record showed.”
Greenbrier West will open the football season with three straight road games, starting with Buffalo Aug. 30, before its home opener Sept. 20 against Webster County.
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