GARDNER - Pineville native Jason Spears didn't immediately feel the itch to coach.

After graduating from Concord with a degree in education, Spears was happy to return home and work for his dad Shawn's successful delivery business.

He settled into his norm, getting married, starting a family and driving to work over Herndon Mountain from his home near Princeton every day.

At Wyoming East, Spears had been a successful athlete.

He was a member of the Class AA state champion football team as a sophomore, backing up quarterback Robert Gunter and playing on special teams. As a senior he was on the Class AA state basketball squad.

But it was on the diamond where he made the most impact and he signed with Concord back in the fall of 2002.

He didn't think he's still be in that area 14 years later.

Somewhere along the road, possibly between Princeton and Pineville on Herndon Mountain, he felt like a change would do him good.

"I started thinking, 'I might need to use my degree,'" Spears said. "I talked to my wife Lydia about it and she said I should go for it. I was fortunate that Wyoming County hired me and I got a job (teaching) at East."

That was three years ago.

And, still a resident of the Athens area, his new career still meant a long drive over Herndon Mountain remained.

"Every day for 14 years," Spears said. "It was an hour and five minutes each way. It's a long drive - and in the winter when it snowed, a scary drive."

Last year he was able to get a job in Mercer County and was able to hook up with long-time friend Josh Wyatt. Both were on coach Bobby Wyatt's (Josh's dad) coaching staff at PikeView.

Not only did his hour-plus drive turn into a five minute commute, but itt was also a return to the coaching.

"I always loved Friday nights," Spears said. "Josh asked me if I'd be interested in coaching. Coach Bobby Wyatt was a blessing to me. He was the one who talked to me about the job after he resigned. He said, 'I think you should apply for the job.'"

And he talked to his old friend Josh about it as well.

"I told Josh I would do it if he was onboard as well," Spears said. "I coached baseball with him (at Princeton). We are sort of like a package deal now."

Spears said he met Josh as adversaries in high school and they both played baseball at Concord. He was among the first class that went to Wyoming East for four years.

"A lot of people wondered how it was going to be with guys coming from different schools. I grew up with the rivalries being against Mullens, Oceana, Herndon, Baileysville. There was always good competition out there. Turns out when we came together we were pretty good."

He encounters a somewhat similar situation at PikeView, a consolidation of schools like Athens, Spanishburg, Matoaka and Oakvale.

"We have kids coming in from a lot of areas, and in the summer it is hard to get everyone together," Spears said. "I understand it's hard to do, it was for us back when I played at Wyoming East. They do a great job here, though, of making sure kids get an opportunity to play."

When assembled, Spears said his team will be young, at least as far as experience goes.

"We lost 3,000 yards in offense," said Spears, noting the graduation of Evan Rose, who put over 3,000 yards himself the last two seasons. "We will be rebuilding from that aspect. But we have some outstanding linemen coming back."

He said he won't necessarily be implementing a new offense and a new defense.

"I have never thought of myself as a coach who has one offense I run or one defense," Spears said. "I think you need to see what personnel you have and adapt what you run to the players that you have. Work around the talent that you have. That's what we will do."

Spears will have a chance to play his alma mater at Wyoming East on Oct. 25.

"I think we are excited about all the games, and there are certainly games that everyone circles on the schedule," Spears said. "But with that being a place where I played and a very special place to me, yes, I'm excited about getting the chance to play Wyoming East. There is a lot of buzz around the program and Larry (Thompson, also a first-year coach) has done a great job getting the players and community excited about football.

"When I playing we didn't play at the school. Back then we played our home games at Mullens and we played our baseball games on the old field at Pinnacle Creek."

PikeView will open its season on Aug. 30 at Summers County.