Entering their second year in the new East Central 2A Conference, the Midway Raiders will once again sail new waters as they have announced the hiring of a new head football coach.
The Midway Athletics department announced in May that Cory Barnes has been assigned the position, replacing outgoing head coach Jason Fussell. Fussell relinquished the position back in the winter, opting to focus on the Raiders baseball team and dedicating more time to his family.
Barnes officially began his role as head coach on May 1 and has already gone right to work. He promises a completely new look to the 2018 version of Raiders Football, including an overhaul of their overall tempo as well as a new offensive brand.
Barnes graduated from Triton High School where he played quarterbacks for the Hawks football team. After graduating, he studied at Campbell University then returned to Triton as an assistant coach. Barnes moved on from Triton after the 2013 season, leaving to join the coaching staff at North Johnston from 2014-17. He served as offensive coordinator for the Panthers during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Midway principal Monty Strickland said that 10 candidates were interviewed out of about 40 applicants before the decision to hire Barnes was made. Midway Athletic Director Beth Best expressed her excitement with what Barnes has done so far.
“Midway’s Athletic Department is excited about the arrival of Coach Barnes,” Best said. “He has already brought excitement and work ethic into this position and has been developing coach and player relationships. In using his words, we’re looking forward to some ‘exciting, fast football’ and we believe Coach Barnes will bring that to our program.”
During the May 24 athletic banquet, Barnes briefly addressed the gathered crowd in the school’s auditorium.
“I’m happy to be a Raider,” he said. “I hope to help this group of kids put a good product on the field on Friday nights. It’s going to be a different look. A different brand.”
Midway certainly has an exciting challenge in front of them with the 2018 season as the East Central 2A Conference proved to be a force during its inaugural season in 2017. Two teams – East Duplin and Wallace-Rose Hill – made appearances in the 2A and 2AA State Championship games. The Bulldogs took an exciting overtime win against Reidsville while the Panthers took a heartbreaking 16-14 loss at the hands of Hibriten.
Clinton, James Kenan and Goldsboro also all made playoff appearances. The Raiders, however, missed out on postseason contention as they finished 1-5 in the ECC and 3-8 overall.
Reach Daron Barefoot at [email protected] Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.