SIDE VIEW: Pitman era begins at Mitchell
In the spring of 2014, Travise Pitman was named the 10th head coach of Mitchell High School’s football program. Just as his predecessor, Russell Barnett, Pitman is a former Mountaineer. From high school, he went on to start at tight end in his junior and senior years at Western Carolina. Once his college career ended, he returned to Mitchell High School where he has worked for former coaches Tom Merritt, Charlie Snyder and Barnett.
Once named the head coach, Pitman began implementing his system of offense and defense and significant changes to both. In addition, he revamped much of what the Mountaineers had been doing in years past in the offseason weight-training and conditioning programs. At the same time, he continues to honor the past pride and history of Mountaineer football.
He began his head coaching career with a big win over West Wilkes and from there things have went well for the Mountaineers. In 2014, he guided the Mountaineers to an overall record of 8-4. His first team won its first-round playoff game and advanced to the second round where it lost to Whiteville. During the season, the Mountaineers collected a nice win over Mountain Heritage and added wins over Madison and Avery. In 2014, the Mountaineers were a junior-laden team. Leading Coach Pitman’s first team were seniors Cole Phillips, Dillon Hoyle and Zack Pressley.
2015 was one of those years Mountaineer fans were eager to get started. The seniors on that team had already played two years of varsity football and along the way had paid their dues, learned many lessons and grew tremendously as football players, many of which would pay great dividends as the season unfolded.
Once again, the Mountaineers got on the winning track with a win in their first game of the year. From there they reeled off eight wins until an untimely loss against Mountain Heritage. At the end of the regular season the Mountaineers had an overall record of 10-1 and tied for the conference championship. They entered the playoffs with a top-4 seed and had the luxury of playing three of the first four playoff games at home on the way to their first ever appearance in the state championship game. For the second year in a row, there were several memorable games along the way, too many to mention now. But, what a great year 2015 turned out to be by the end of the year. Again in 2015 there were several key performers leading the Mountaineers to the best year of football in Mitchell’s history. The list is long and includes Peyton Greene, Solomon Duncan, Cy Thomas, Dalton Beaver, Tre Carson, Jamison Burleson, Will Atkins, Alex Parker, Jade Osbon and Jake Robinson.
A looming question entering the 2016 season was much the same as those same questions entering 2012. With many seniors gone from the previous year, what would the Mountaineers do to get themselves back to the level as the previous year? To the credit of Coach Pitman, he had a plan and program in place to continue to produce good young men with talent that could come in and play right away.
The 2016 team got down to business early and got on track with a win in week one for the third year in a row. Those new faces on the 2016 squad picked up where the 2015 team left off. Coach Pitman has assembled a great coaching staff that understands his system and they are great at teaching the young men those skills they need to be successful. Again in 2016 there were new memories made along the way to a 13-win season and another tie for the conference championship. Key performers continuing the Mountaineers winning ways were Alex McKinney, Todd Self and Jacob Yelton.
At this point, we have covered every Mountaineer football team that has taken the field and listed many of the key performers leading their respective teams. They have all been nominated by someone to get their names mentioned. The time to nominate continues I encourage readers to e-mail nominations to either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2017 season is in full sight. As it nears, we will be talking more about the release of those men that make the “Hall of Fame” and “Teams of the Decades.” They will be announced at an early home game later this year. And, the 2017 Mountaineers are beginning to do a little work in preparation for the upcoming season.
Next week, I plan to highlight the Mountaineers winter sports programs including boys’ and girls’ basketball and wrestling.
Chris Pitman gains his views from more than 40 years of involvement with Mitchell High School Athletics.