SANFORD — Lee County Schools hired not one, but two varsity head coaches at Southern Lee High School at its regular meeting on Tuesday night after passing a motion to lift the hiring freeze on certified teachers only.
For the third time in as many years, LCS filled the Cavaliers’ head football position, naming Hoke County assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Tom Paris, a 19-year coaching veteran, to take over for Eric Puryear.
In addition, the board moved to fill Southern Lee’s baseball coaching vacancy left last week when Matt Burnett resigned. David Miller, a graduate of Lee County and a former minor league baseball player, will take over at Southern Lee after nine seasons as the head coach at Chapel Hill High School.
Puryear, who told The Herald he stepped away from the program on May 18, did not have his contract renewed by the board on Tuesday, said Lee County Schools Superintendent Jeff Moss. That created the opening filled by Paris.
“I am fortunate to have the opportunity to serve Lee County and the student-athletes at Southern Lee High School,” Paris said in a statement released by LCS. “I am honored to have the confidence of (Principal Bonnie) Almond and the Lee County Schools’ administration. We will implement and execute a football program that instills and builds leadership, accountability, teamwork and the character traits necessary for success in college and beyond.”
Miller led Chapel Hill to three Piedmont Athletic Conference championships and has led the team into the state playoffs in seven of his nine seasons. He was named the league’s coach of the year three times. Miller spent three years at North Carolina before playing his final year at UNC-Wilmington. In 1995, Miller was drafted in the 14th round by the Florida Marlins and played minor league baseball for three years.
“I am excited to be coming home to Lee County,” Miller said in a statement released by LCS. “I am looking forward to coaching in a basebal town and a community that values the role of high school athletics in the lives of our student-athletes. I appreciate the administration having the confidence in me both as a teacher and coach to make a positive contribution at Southern Lee.”
In addition to coaching at the high school level, Miller was an assistant at Appalachian State.
Paris spent the last two seasons at Hoke County. Before that, he worked for seven years at Scotland County as a defensive assistant, including time as the defensive coordinator.
Paris also has head coaching experience. After six seasons in the 1990s as an assistant with perennial state championship contender Richmond County, Paris spent four years as the head coach at 2-A Whiteville. As a member of the Waccamaw Conference, Paris’ Wolfpack reached the state playoffs twice — before the N.C. High School Athletic Association went to the split-class tournament format. he has also had success as a track and field coach while at Scotland County.