An individual who loves high school football in small-town settings, Thomas Zietlow is ready to embrace the challenge that awaits him as the new head football coach at Charles B. Aycock High School.
“I’m excited, and it always been a dream of mine to be the head coach at C.B. Aycock,” Zietlow said.
Born in Okemos, Michigan, Zietlow attended and played football at Okemos High School. He went to college at Michigan State University, where he majored in physical science, chemistry, and physics.
After graduating from college, Zietlow got his first teaching and coaching job at C.B. Aycock. Along with being the football team’s offensive line coach, Zietlow also taught chemistry.
“I knew from pretty early on that I wanted to become a football coach because of the coaches that I had growing up and in high school,” Zietlow said. “They allowed me to come back when I was in college, and I started coaching at my high school when I was in college, so I’ve been doing it for 20 years now.
“I think it just stems from being able to work with the student-athletes, and that’s really the joy of coaching that you get to work with kids and see them achieve things.”
After eight seasons at C.B. Aycock, Zietlow spent the previous nine seasons as the offensive line coach at William Amos Hough High School in Cornelius, where he also taught chemistry and physics.
“For me, it definitely feels like coming home. I know I’m not originally from Pikeville, but it was the first job I got out of college, and I worked there for eight years, and it became a second home to me.
“Even when I made the decision to leave nine years ago, there was always a thought that I might have the opportunity to come back and take on the head coach position when I got more experience.”
Zietlow succeeds Steve Brooks, who spent eight seasons at C.B. Aycock before stepping down in April. Brooks guided the Golden Falcons to five appearances in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A playoffs.
C.B. Aycock athletics director Jon Horton worked with a shortlist of coaching candidates, and Zietlow was the right fit.
“Coach Horton actually reached out to me about the vacancy,” Zietlow said. “So, I kept in contact with coach Horton, and he checked in to see if I was interested in applying.”
C.B. Aycock finished 1-6 overall last season and spent the past several seasons in the tough Eastern Carolina 3A/4A Conference. Along with county rival Southern Wayne, C.B. Aycock will join a new conference that also features East Wake, Fike, Hunt, Smithfield-Selma, South Johnston, and West Johnston.
Zietlow said he likes the new conference and expects the Golden Falcons to put in the work on and off the field to be competitive within the new conference.
“The new conference is definitely beneficial to move into because it’s a full 3A schedule, so I’m definitely excited about that,” Zietlow said. “I want to be competitive within the conference. I want to be competitive on the field and build the belief in the kids back up again.
“We’ll start with hard work in the work in the weight room. Being physical on the field, knowing what we’re doing, and preparing the kids so that they’re mentally ready to get going on Friday nights.”
Zietlow understands that personnel will determine what kind of team he puts on the field under the lights on Friday night. Still, he wants to Golden Falcons to be physical running the football and have the ability to control the clock on offense while maintaining that physicality on the defensive side of the ball.
“We definitely want to run the ball to set up the ability to pass the ball successfully and force teams to stop us on the ground,” Zietlow said.