Rainey takes reins of Cowboys football
Eric Rainey’s disappointment quickly became excitement and humility.
After deciding to re-enter coaching as an assistant this upcoming season, only to have his head coach take a job at another school, Rainey was tapped as Southwest Guilford’s new head football coach, the school announced Thursday.
“It feels good, really good,” he said, after addressing his players for the first time in the school’s gym. “I’m humbled by the opportunity. I’ve been here for eight years, so I have a vested interest in the school.
“I am the graduation coach, so my job is to help kids graduate. So, there’s a direct correlation between kids being solid character kids and doing well academically and graduating. So, I think it’s a good fit and ties in with athletics.”
Rainey will certainly be a familiar face for many of the people around the program. He has been the graduation coach at the school for the past eight years and, prior to that, was an assistant football coach for the Cowboys in 2003.
So, he expects that, while there will be some inevitable changes, there will also be plenty of continuity in transitioning from former head coach Scott Schwarzer, who will be coaching at a school in Georgia, to himself.
“I was disappointed to hear that Coach Schwarzer is leaving,” said Rainey, who played collegiately at Ferrum and Towson State. “When I agreed to come on staff this year, we had a lot of similar thoughts and got along well. So, I was eager and willing to just be an assistant. ...
“The process went on for a while — I guess it seemed like forever for us,” he said with a smile of hearing he got the job. “So, it was first just kind of a relief. Relief and then unadulterated joy, but definitely then quickly followed by humbleness.”
Since starting his coaching career in 1997 at Wakefield High in Arlington, Va., where he also played as a student, Rainey has also coached at Page High as an assistant before becoming the athletic director at Lincoln Middle.
His long-term goal, for a long time, was to become a head coach. So, even though he was just planning on getting back into coaching this season, he liked the idea of putting his name in for the open position as well.
“I’ve always dreamed of being a head coach,” he said. “I’ve been an assistant coach for 12 years at different schools and had the opportunity to work with some great coaches. So, as an assistant, you’re always looking to kind of put your signature on something.
“I’ve been a part of some great teams. I played on Ferrum College’s teams that lost only two games in two years under Hank Norton. So, I know what success looks like. I feel like I’ll have an opportunity here to kind of put into action what I think is the recipe for success.”
Almost immediately, Rainey, his staff and his players got to work, making preparations for the offseason workouts. And while there is some tinkering still to do, as far as offensive and defensive systems, he wants his teams to be known largely for executing the fundamentals.
“I want us to be characterized by mistake-free football,” he said. “Very fundamentally sound. I firmly believe that if you don’t make mistakes and play fundamentally sound, then you’ll win ballgames — or give you an opportunity to win games.
“So, I’d certainly like the signature of Southwest Cowboys football to be fundamentally sound: blocking, tackling, catching and throwing — the basics of football and, again, playing mistake-free. … We’re not trying to be a jack of all trades, but just be good at what we do.”