G. Michael Graham Photo. Grant Brannen (black sweatshirt) watches during team introductions at a game earlier this year. Brannen guided the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds basketball team for seven years before taking the same postion at Walton-Verona on Tuesday.
By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
One of the hottest boys basketball head coaching jobs in Northern Kentucky came open Tuesday.
Veteran Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds Head Coach Grant Brannen announced he’s taking the same position at nearby Walton-Verona. This comes after the Thoroughbreds finished 30-3 this past season with Ashland Invitational, All “A” State and 36th District championships.
“I have been a part of the NewCath family since I was in the second grade,” Brannen, a 1998 NewCath grad, said. “For over 15 years, I loved every minute of teaching and coaching at my alma mater. Graduating, teaching, and coaching at NCC was a dream come true. This is a special place and will always be a part of my family’s life.”
NewCath finished 146-62 in Brannen’s seven seasons as head coach. The Thoroughbreds recorded six 36th District titles and four All “A” 9th Region titles during that span. NewCath finished 9th Region runner-up in 2011 to Dixie Heights and 2012 to Boone County. Eventual state quarterfinalist Covington Holmes bounced NewCath, 55-50 in the first round of the 9th Region Tournament this year.
Brannen said his daughter Caroline and son Jefferson “will eventually be Thoroughbreds.” Brannen’s wife, the former Anna McSorely, graduated from NewCath in 1999.
“Grant is an unbelievable coach, an even better teacher, and an even better person,” said Rob Detzel, NewCath Director of Athletics. “It is a sad day for NCC, as we are losing one of our great alums. We are, however, very happy for Coach Brannen and wish him nothing but the best at his new position.”
Brannen teaches Sociology, Geography, United State and World History in addition to Health and Physical Education at NewCath. He will also teach at Walton-Verona.
Brannen took over as head coach for Detzel in 2006 when Detzel took the AD position. Detzel succeeded former head coach Ron Dawn years before that.
“It is with mixed emotions that I inform all that Grant Brannen is not returning as a teacher and coach next year,” said Carl Foster, NCC Principal. “We are losing a great coach and more importantly, an excellent role model for our student-athletes. We thank him for his commitment to our students in the classroom and the success he has built with our basketball program.”
Two starters graduate from this year’s team in Michael Bueter and Nick Seibert. The Thoroughbreds graduate three other seniors in Jake Haas, Colin Dupont and Brennan Devoto.
But NewCath does return a lot of talent starting with rising 6-foot-8-inch senior Jake Schulte and rising juniors Zach Pangallo and 6-6 Drew McDonald. The Thoroughbreds also have some talent coming up like 6-4 rising sophomore Ben Weyer.
“I want to thank the coaching staff and all the young men who I had the honor of coaching,” Brannen said. “I am thankful for the experiences and memories we share.”
Brannen has a huge task in front of him at Walton-Verona. The Bearcats finished just 9-21 last year. They lost 53-47 to Simon Kenton in the 32nd District semifinals at Williamstown.
NewCath has begun the process of filling in the opening. A couple media outlets have reported that Ron Dawn has accepted the offer to return to his old position. Dawn guided the Thoroughbreds to the All “A” and 9th Region championships in 2000.
Dawn coached the NewCath girls program for four years between 2008 and 2012. He guided the Thoroughbreds to the All “A” championship in 2010 and the 9th Region crown in 2011.