The storied high school football program struggled to a record of 3-8 last season. The athletic director stepped into the job on an interim basis following the resignation of former head coach Steve Mallard.
Sawvel is a native of Ohio. He graduated from Davidson College and has called North Carolina home ever since.
The Dark Horsnes return only seven lettermen from the 2009 team. Key returnees inlcude Dean Thompson, Tykevin Boykin, Kullen Bell, and Darius Middleton. Some of the coach’s key newcomers are Vic Register, a quarterback; Derek Mercer, a running back; and Alonso Acosta, an offensive and defensive lineman.
Clinton football currently has 68 athletes practicing, 35 of those will be varsity players. The other 33 are junior varsity, and coach Sawvel expects that number to grow. He said that summer participation went well. “Players did a lot of work on their own,” the Dark Horse coach stated. “They did a good job keeping at it during the transition.”
Sawvel’s staff includes former Clinton head coach Bob Lewis. Lewis won four state championships while coaching the Dark Horses. Also included on the coaching staff are Jeff Davidson, Mike Bell, Trey Fetterman, Mark Fields, Eddie Grey, and Leonard Henry.
“Our biggest challenge this year,” explained Sawvel, “ is that we have a lot of new people in all positions. And it (the schedule) doesn’t start off easily.”
The Dark Horses will begin with two games on the road. They open with an endowment game at James Kenan. The second game will be at defending state champion 1-A Wallace-Rose Hill. The first home game will be versus Triton on Sept. 3. Clinton will host the Sampson County Pigskin Jamboree this Friday at 7 p.m.
“Our goal” says Sawvel, “ is to go out each week and be as competitive as we can be and hopefully be in contention to win each game.” To help achieve that goal, the coach says that head soccer Coach Brad Spell has offered to help with the kicking game through some of the soccer players.
“I’m excited,” continued Sawvel, “to work with with everybody. I want to see the senior class go out the best they can.”