Ene Akpan has been chosen East’s next football coach, athletic director Kevin Hartley said Tuesday.
Akpan was the Aces’ defensive coordinator for the 2017 season, leading a defense allowed only 16.1 points per game during their 3-6 season. He replaces Bill Coffman.
Akpan graduated from South, where he played football and ran track. He said having grown up in the City League is important for his players.
“We have a lot of single-parent homes, a lot of poverty and hardship,” Akpan said. “So as coaches, we gotta be more like father figures, brotherly figures.”
Hartley said Akpan’s personability was one of the key factors in his hiring.
“Kids always want to be around him and go talk to him,” Hartley said. “That translates to the football field.”
Akapan said he has taken players as far as Houston for football camps when money or transportation were issues. He said he understands a lot of how his players think because of their shared background.
Although Akpan has not led a high school football program, he said he is excited to continue East’s defensive success from last season and understands work needs to be done offensively.
The Aces scored fewer than 10 points in six games in 2017, including three shutouts. Akpan said one of East’s advantages is its athletes, and because of that, the brand of football might look different.
“You gotta let your athletes be athletes,” he said. “Let them show their personalities and what they have on the field. Offensively, times have changed, and you gotta let them play in space.
“The most exciting thing is to actually watch our kids be successful and have our kids have something to be proud of.”