ROCKINGHAM — It’s been a while since Eric Morman has been back to Raider Stadium.
At one point of his life, it was where he spent the majority of his Friday nights as a wide receiver for the Richmond football team. His ability to separate himself from opposing defenders and catch passes helped the Raiders win four consecutive conference championships under former head coaches Ed Emory and Paul Hoggard.
Fast forward a little more than a decade later, however, and you’ll see that Morman hasn’t had much time to get back to his old stomping grounds. Since graduating from Richmond, he’s played football at Catawba College, got an assistant coaching job at A.L. Brown High School and completed two years as the head coach at West Stanly High School.
This past February, Morman accepted the job to become the head football coach at North Mecklenburg.
He has led the Vikings program to its first winning season since 2006, with eight wins and only three losses this year, and will be looking to add another to the win column when he finally makes his return home.
Morman’s North Meck squad earned the West bracket’s No. 9 seed in the NCHSAA 4AA State Playoffs and is set to take on the No. 8 seed Raiders in the first round Friday night.
“When I took the job here, I knew I was going to the 4A level and might have the opportunity to come back home — and it happened in my first year,” Morman said. “I know it’s going to be a great game against some great competiton. We’re very excited about having the opportunity to play a very traditional program like Richmond Senior.”
Everything he learned as a player during his time as a Raider, most notably the committment to excellence, Morman attributes to his success as a college athlete and now as a high school coach. Being able to come up under Emory and Hoggard allows him to mimic what he was taught while still putting his own spin on it.
“Just having the chance to play in a program that was committed to its football. There’s a lot of tradition,” Morman said of Richmond. “All of those things were instilled in me and I’m able to carry that throughout my career.”
Morman also gained experience from another “traditional powerhouse-type program” while at A.L. Brown.
“It’s just always been a blessing for me to have the opportunity to work in programs like that,” he added.
Former athletes becoming coaches after wrapping up their playing careers is a natural transition, but the 28-year-old Richmond County native has quickly climbed the coaching ladder and put himself in a unique position.
Only five years removed from his final college season, Morman’s journey essentially embodies the message that he has been preaching to his players since he took over the program nine months ago: #BeUncommon.
“I talk to my guys about being uncommon…being greater than average. Doing things above and beyond the normal is what we talk about a lot,” he said. “I think that’s why we’ve succeeded so far. Our guys have committed to it and they trust the process. That’s the biggest thing.”
Morman is very much excited about his return home but also knows that a loss would end his team’s season. And North Meck, who opened the season with seven straight wins, isn’t looking to drop another game after losing three of its last four.
So he’s been preparing his team for a battle.
Only this time, it’s win or go home.
“You’re going to practice like you play and we’ve had a good week of practice so far this week,” he said. “We look forward to coming out and playing great on Friday night.”
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. at 910-817-2673 and follow the sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.