Ready To Roll
Josh Sophia eager to fix Camden County football
Coach announced as head coach last month
By Malcolm Shields
Monday, May 6, 2019
CAMDEN — It has been a busy few weeks for Josh Sophia.
The longtime assistant football coach at North Rowan High School has been juggling moving arrangements in the western part of the state, while trying to settle in as the new head football coach at Camden County High School.
Sophia, who was announced the head coach of the Camden football program April 12, was at the high school Friday afternoon meeting with the players.
The coach acknowledged that the process of moving has been fun and a bit hectic.
“All of that is temporary,” Sophia said.
Sophia comes to northeast North Carolina from North Rowan, which is a few miles northeast of Salisbury and around an hour’s drive northeast of Charlotte.
While at North Rowan, Sophia helped the Cavaliers earn state playoff berths in each of the past five seasons.
During the past two seasons, North Rowan was a Class 1A program.
Before that, North Rowan was a Class 2A program.
Sophia noted that one of the draws to take over Camden County football is that the program had a history of winning.
Camden posted four consecutive winning campaigns from 2012-2015.
The Bruins also had a stretch between 2004 and 2008 in which they posted winning records in four of the five seasons.
He added that he liked the fact that Camden is a school in a small, rural part of the state.
“I’ve spent the majority of my time at a small school. That’s what I like,” Sophia said.
He also noted the challenge of turning around the program as a draw.
Camden and North Rowan have their similarities.
According the NCHSAA 2018-19 Average Daily Membership (ADM) figures, Camden’s 596 was slightly more than North Rowan’s 527.
North Rowan is part of the Rowan-Salisbury Schools system, which has seven other high schools.
Including North Rowan, six schools in the district had a football program last season.
Although Camden County Schools does have an early college high school, the early college does not sponsor sports.
Sophia anticipates that the sense of community will also be similar in Camden like it was at North Rowan.
Sophia noted because of the number of athletes available, there is a brand of football that will have to be played at Camden.
“We want to be very sound on both sides of the ball,” he said. “We’re gap control on defense. We’ll give you multiple looks. Offensively, we’ll give you multiple looks.”
The coach plans for the Bruins lean towards the run offensively.
“We are going to be a run offense, but we want to stay balanced at the same time,” he said. “We want to be very well schooled in the kicking game as well.”
The Camden varsity program has endured three consecutive seasons without a winning record.
That includes an 0-11 campaign last fall.
Sophia noted that he will make an effort to work with the youth and middle school football programs, which are feeders to the high school program.
Building a desire to play football into the younger athletes will also be worked on.
“You have to make it important to these kids,” Sophia said.
The coach added that you’ve got to have kids coming up wanting to be Camden County Bruins.
Sophia’s passion for football goes back to his youth and growing up as a fan of the Washington Redskins.
He played college football at Chowan University as an offensive lineman in the 1990s.
Sophia played under North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame coach Jim Garrison along with Daniel Surface, who was an assistant coach under Garrison at Chowan.
Sophia also credited his offensive line coaches Daryl Allen, who also coached high school football at Hertford County, and Thomas Gardner as mentors.
“Those guys molded me,” Sophia said.
He also credited his high school football coach for being an impact on his career.
Sophia noted that the staff and kids that he worked with at North Rowan were great people.
“I’ve worked with some of the best coaches around and I’ve learned more than I can remember,” he said.
Sophia said that the plan is for him to start at Camden June 10 and he will also be a physical education teacher at the high school.
The coach added that he has a full summer schedule in place for the football program.
If any schools want to compete with Bruins during the 7-on-7 portion of the summer, Sophia said Camden is open to an invitation.
Sophia’s message to the group of players was they have to put in the work.
“I’m going to facilitate this and they got to put the work in,” he said. “I feel like they are excited. I feel like they want to. You’ve got to get to work. It’s not going to happen overnight.”