Kennedy Tinsley, now at Mallard Creek HS and from Greensboro’s Dudley HS/Eastern Guilford HS/Southeast Guilford HS, has been named the Charlotte area High School Coach of the Week

NC high school football coach of the week suddenly lost NFL dream.

Then he found another
(from Langston Wertz Jr. August 23, 2023 on Twitter, and from the Charlotte Observer…..)

Mallard Creek High’s Kennedy Tinsley always thought he would end up being a coach. He just never thought he would get started as early as he did.

Tinsley, 36, is the first Deer Park Water NC high school football coach of the week. The Charlotte Observer and News & Observer of Raleigh will feature weekly winners throughout the season.

Tinsley led his Mallard Creek team to a 28-14 upset win over Independence last Thursday. This week, the Mavericks jumped six spots to No. 3 in The Charlotte Observer’s Sweet 16 regional poll. They jumped five spots to No. 3 in the N.C. 4A statewide poll, and they’re up six spots to No. 15 in The Carolinas Top 25, a ranking of the top teams in North and South Carolina.

Mallard Creek (1-0) will host national power Buford (GA) at home Friday.

It’s the kind of game Tinsley always envisioned himself coaching in, but at this stage of his life, he figured he would just be getting started, not working in his 13th season. “To be honest,” Tinsley said, “we would always say that we would coach when we were done playing.

The dream was to play in the NFL, play for a long time and make it big.” Only, that dream died rather suddenly.

After playing four years at North Carolina, from 2006-09, Tinsley signed with the Los Angeles Rams in 2010 and was cut right before the preseason games began. The next year, in 2011, Tinsley was drafted by the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League.

Tinsley was training in Chapel Hill with former UNC teammate and then Dallas Cowboy linebacker Bruce Carter in the summer of 2011, getting ready to head out west, still hoping for a possible NFL shot. Then everything changed. “My foot got stuck in the turf,” Tinsley said. “I immediately knew something wasn’t right.”

At 22, Tinsley had torn multiple ligaments in his knee and needed micro fracture surgery.

He figured he would rehab and come back the next year and try again, but he ended up landing a job at Eastern Guilford High School near his hometown. And Tinsley had a big name in Greensboro.

In high school, Tinsley led Greensboro Page(writer Wertz Jr. meant to say the Dudley Panthers here) to the state championship game rushing for 1,148 yards and 10 touchdowns for the season.

It didn’t take long, at Eastern Guilford, for Tinsley to know he’d found his calling. “I remember doing the interview with a durn cast on,” he said. “I was going to practice on crutches. But I enjoyed coaching and teaching so much, and my family was happy. We had two little ones at the time.

I was kind of like, ‘Man, I’m good,’ and I said, ‘I’m going to work on this and move forward.’ I was 23.”

Tinsley had a lot of success at Eastern Guilford, helping the football team reach the 2016 state championship game, where it lost to Weddington. He was promoted from assistant to head girls track coach. His girls team won the state championship in 2016. In 2017, Tinsley got his first head football coaching job, working at Southeast Guilford. In 2018, he led Southeast Guilford to the state championship game, where it, too, lost to Weddington.

Two years later, he got another promotion, being named to replace legendary Charlotte coach Mike Palmieri at a Mallard Creek program that had three state championships and a national reputation.

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