High School Sports

After a heart attack, former UNC player returns to lead undefeated high school football team into the playoffs

South Granville head coach Mike Hobgood during South Granville's football game at Bunn on Friday, October 21, 2016. Bunn won the game 9-3.
South Granville head coach Mike Hobgood during South Granville's football game at Bunn on Friday, October 21, 2016. Bunn won the game 9-3. newsobserver.com

South Granville will have its coach back for the start of the N.C. High School Athletic Association football playoffs.

Mike Hobgood, a former offensive line standout at UNC and Northern High in Durham, was officially cleared last week to return to coaching after suffering a massive heart attack on Oct. 11. Friday’s playoff opener in the 2AA playoffs against Washington will be his first game on the sideline.

He’s been cleared to teach again beginning Monday.

Hobgood said he had close to 100 percent blockage in one artery and 90 percent in another.

He hadn’t been feeling well and had chest pains that day, so another coach took him to urgent care.

It turned out to be a life saver.

Hobgood was shocked four or five times with a defibrillator at the urgent care and then more times while being transported to Duke.

“Had it been anywhere else where there wasn’t a defibrillator I’d probably be dead,” Hobgood said. “The chances of me surviving that heart attack were so slim. ... It was definitely God’s will. I’m a Christian and I believe He wanted me here and that’s why things happened the way they happened.”

Hobgood said he remembers passing out that Wednesday and waking up Friday.

Frank Mundy, the defensive coordinator, was the interim coach as South Granville went into its biggest games of the year. The Vikings won out to finish 11-0 for the first time in school history.

Tucker Brown, left, of South Granville throws a pass against Jaquan Brandon, right, of J.F. Webb. The J.F. Webb Warriors visited the South Granville Vikings in a high school football game on Nov. 3, 2017. Fabian Radulescu newsobserver.com

“He and all of the coaches and players did a tremendous job while I was gone,” Hobgood said.

South Granville wore the Tar Heels’ “footprint” logo on the back of their helmets to honor their head coach. Mundy said it has somewhat of a double meaning, because Hobgood has also put his footprint on Creedmoor and the surrounding community.

“The community has been great,” Hobgood said. “This is my home and I’ve had thousands of people praying for me, both here and in Durham and the Northern Durham community.”

Hobgood was an offensive lineman for Northern before playing for the Tar Heels, where he graduated in 1999. His first head coaching job came at South Granville in 2005. He left for Leesville Road in 2014 but came back to South Granville as a coordinator in 2015 and was named Vikings head coach for a second time in 2016.