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View from the 'ville
Friday, February 11, 2011

By Al Myatt

Pirates still supporting Pirates

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

The East Carolina University Educational Foundation, better known as the Pirate Club, began promoting a practice some years ago called Pirates Supporting Pirates. The idea was to strengthen East Carolina by encouraging members to seek goods and services from fellow ECU supporters.

There was a directory published that listed various Pirate Club members and their businesses.

The concept wasn't lost on former ECU offensive lineman Brian Rimpf and some of his former teammates.

After four years in the National Football League with the Baltimore Ravens followed by two years of playing professionally indoors in California and New Orleans, Rimpf was ready to settle down with his oldest son approaching kindergarten age. He estimated that he and wife Lauren, who recently gave birth to a daughter, had moved nine or 10 times.

Rimpf majored in accounting and finance at ECU, which helped him manage his money when he was making a good salary in the NFL. He earned $500,000 his last season in Baltimore. As the former All-Conference USA selection was pondering a more stable career situation, former Pirate quarterback Paul Troth was trying to assist first-year Harnett Central High School football coach Patrick Turner as he put together a coaching staff.

Turner followed Marc Morris to the consolidated school between Lillington and Angier. Morris had guided the Trojans to the Eastern 4-A championship in 2009 but left to take over the program at the new Cleveland High School in Johnston County. Troth, the new Harnett Central offensive coordinator, came from a position as receivers coach at Campbell University. Harnett Central had an outstanding quarterback, Brian Taylor, who received offers from Clemson, ECU and North Carolina before he accepted a grant from N.C. State, the program he had pulled for growing up.

Rimpf had called Charlie Dempsey, a former left guard at ECU.

"He's coaching at Southwest Onslow," Rimpf said. "I talked to him about coaching and he told me to talk to Paul. He said Paul was at a school and they were looking for an O-Line coach."

Rimpf called Troth and the position worked out from there.

"Paul did set it up," Rimpf said. "I e-mailed coach Turner and we talked. It's funny because I was always the one protecting him. I was at left tackle when he was in there at quarterback as a young guy. He looked out for me on this one so I guess he returned the favor."

There you go. Pirates supporting Pirates.

The learning process

Rimpf learned a few things in the transition from player to coach.

"It's a different mindset," he said. "The first two or three games I was getting myself motivated and prepared like I was going to play. I was getting psyched up on the bus, getting mentally focused. Then I realized, 'I'm not going on the field.' I have to get these guys ready. I always got myself ready. I had my own little routine."

Rimpf was talking to his offensive linemen before one game and felt like he couldn't breathe. He was so intense that he was about to hyperventilate.

"I said, 'Let's break it down,' and I sent them to the sideline, I didn't want them to know I was about to pass out," Rimpf said.

Rimpf said he also had to adjust to watching the offensive line function as a group.

"That was a little bit of a change because my inclination was to watch one guy and then watch another guy," he said. "But you have to see what your guys are doing as a group. It took a little while for me to see the game like that."

Turner feels like he has a coach with a good upside in Rimpf.

"He has excellent knowledge of his position," Turner said. "He will only get better as his circle of knowledge with other facets of the game increases."

Rimpf's presence at Harnett Central enabled the football program to receive an $8,000 grant from the NFL which was used to buy new helmets for the 2011 seniors, new shoulder pads and new practice pants.

[Article continues below picture]

Daily Record Photo by Al Myatt

Harnett Central coaches (from left) Brian Rimpf, Patrick Turner and Paul Troth display new helmets made possible because Rimpf, the Trojans’ offensive line coach, is a former NFL player. (Photo courtesy of the Dunn Daily Record; Copyright © 2011 Record Publishing Company)

Still following the program

"I went to see the State game," Rimpf said when asked if had seen the Pirates play. "I loved that one. It made me nervous. They got up so fast."

ECU led 21-0 in the first quarter against the Wolfpack but needed an interception in overtime by freshman backup safety Damon Magazu to preserve a 33-27 win.

"I've pretty much been able to make it to at least one game (a season) since I left," Rimpf said.

The offensive style the Pirates have adopted resembles an arena approach with its commitment to passing.

"It's wide open," Rimpf said. "They've got to build their defense back. They lost a lot of guys."

Work to be done

Rimpf teaches business courses at Harnett Central. He is working on his teaching certification online through ECU.

"My first day we were in the computer lab and all my students Googled me," he said. "So they knew all about me."

Rimpf is 6-foot-6 and played at over 300 pounds but he's slimmed down some.

"I can't eat as much when I'm not working out," he said.

Some of the Central wrestlers have challenged him to a match on the mat. There has been some trash talk about the student-faculty basketball game.

"That's OK," he said. "I'm still in good shape. Some of these kids aren't going to give you their respect. You have to earn it."

Central plays in the Greater Neuse Conference which includes some strong programs such as Garner, Southeast Raleigh and Clayton.

Harnett Central went 7-5 in 2010 as injuries to Taylor and running back Jarod Spears proved detrimental. It was a down year, relatively speaking, after a 15-1 season in 2009.

But Rimpf has resolve.

"I know a lot of football and I know what it takes to make it," he said. "I think I know enough to help these kids. These are some of the best days of their lives but they don't last forever and I tell them they need to make the most of them."

Rimpf has embarked on the transition from player to coach but he still has a desire to succeed, that will to win that got him to the NFL. That's why he's planning to remain at Harnett Central.

"As a competitor, I want to have a better season next year," he said.

E-mail Al Myatt

Al Myatt Archives

02/18/2011 02:42 AM


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