CONCORD – When the Concord High School boys basketball position came open last month, more than 50 applications flooded the athletics department.
Ultimately, though, Concord athletics director Greg Liddle didn’t have to leave the building to find the man he felt was best for the job.
Liddle promoted Spiders JV head coach and varsity assistant Barrett Krueger to be the head man about a month after Jason Stowe stepped down after four seasons.
Krueger, 40, is an Ohio native who was the head coach at Winkler Middle School before coming to Concord in 2014 as the JV head coach and assistant to then-varsity head coach George Walker. Krueger was on Stowe’s staff each of the past for years, during which the Spiders went 64-47.
The Ohio State graduate said he was thrilled when he learned on June 22 that Concord’s storied program was now in his hands.
“It’s a dream job,” Krueger said. “It’s a dream come true, so I am excited to be a part of this.”
Out of the many applicants for the position, Liddle said he interviewed “four or five.” Sources told the Independent Tribune that one of those interviewees was Concord great Ishua Benjamin, who was a Parade All-American and led the Spiders to the state semifinals before going on to play at N.C. State. Benjamin, who played for beloved late Concord coach Bo Brickels, has coached on the AAU circuit and has been the head JV coach at Raleigh’s Leesville High.
The Concord hire has been the subject of much debate among upset Spider fans, who have been known for their outspokenness throughout the decades. But Liddle is resolute in his belief that Krueger is the best man for the job.
“I feel real good about the choice that we made,” Liddle said. “You’re always going to be critiqued based off the hires that are made and things like that. When we were looking at it, we wanted someone who was going to provide continuity for the kids, who was going to put the kids in the best situation that they could to be successful and also understand what it takes to run a high school basketball program.
“It’s not what people think it is,” Liddle added. “You’ve got to teach three classes a day, and then you’ve got to shift into the basketball side of things. You’ve got to get out and do a lot of community-based stuff – fundraising and all that kind of stuff. There’s a lot more to coaching high school basketball. Basketball’s truly a 12-month sport for these coaches.”
Liddle said there’s also been a great deal of support for Krueger, especially from one important group: the players.
“I believe we’ve got a great coach in place, we’ve got a great situation to step into, and we’ve got good kids to work with who wanted to play for him – who made it very clear that they wanted to play for Coach Krueger,” Liddle said. “So I think we’re going to be heading in a pretty good direction here over the next three or four years.”
On Wednesday, Krueger took to Twitter to announce who two of his assistant coaches will be: former Spiders great Edmond O’Neal, the father of recent Concord graduate Jalen O’Neal; and Guy Spader, who had a star-studded playing and coaching career in New York.