4 Questions with Dalton head coach Kit Carpenter

ajc.com

Today’s interviewee is Dalton coach Kit Carpenter, whose team is 4-0 after avenging losses to Sonoraville and Rockmart from the Catamounts’ 2-2 start last season. Dalton has another chance to avenge a 2022 loss, to Cedartown, at home this Friday. Carpenter was promoted from defensive coordinator in 2021 and led Dalton, his alma mater, to its first playoff victory in six years last season.

1. You’re 4-0, having avenged two losses. Did you like your chances of being in this position, and why? “It may be naivete or the foolish pride of a coach, but we go into every season with the expectation of being 4-0. While we know being 4-0 isn’t always realistic, we really do believe it. So, we can confidently say being undefeated four games into the season is exactly where we expected we would be.”

2. You graduated an almost 2,000-yard rusher, which many credited for the big jump your team made last season [to 6-6 from 2-8]. How have you compensated for losing Tyson Greenwade, now at Charleston Southern? “Although we lost our leading rusher last year, we felt like we were in a good position with our running game because we returned our entire offensive line from a year ago as well as some of our other playmakers. The success we have had throwing the football has allowed us to be ‘running back by committee.’ Adriel Hernandez, Bubba Tanner, Adrian Gongora and Nash Smith each bring a different skillset to our running game, and our ability to block has helped tremendously with our success on the ground. Ethan Long, our quarterback, has done an outstanding job of throwing the football, and his growth has provided us with many possibilities.”

3. What do you feel that you and your staff have done to get the program back to Dalton standards from the time you took it over? What’s been the biggest challenge? “We have been intentional and worked diligently to focus on the little things that have made our program successful over the years. Our core values drive every decision we make to ensure consistency and stability. We have a great coaching staff, administration and community that have gone above and beyond to foster an environment where our kids can thrive regardless of any obstacle. Dr. Tim Scott (superintendent), Dr. Steven Craft (director of student activities), Ryan Richards (athletic director), and Dr. Lee Collins (our principal) have been amazing partners to our program, and with that kind of support, there are endless avenues of success for our student-athletes.

“The biggest challenge that we face as coaches is not necessarily isolated to just our program, but it is more about the kids of this generation. There are so many things in their world today that draw their attention, and football is just one of them. We are constantly working to strike a delicate balance between focusing on football while also allowing our kids to be kids. More than anything, we want them to graduate from our program being well-rounded and productive members of society.”

4. What’s it like for you as a Dalton grad to be heading up the program now, whether that be the expectations of the community or just your personal feelings on being the head coach in your hometown? “I love Dalton, and I have been a part of this program and community my entire life. I grew up going to games at Harmon Field and always dreamed of being a Catamount. The values I learned while playing here changed my life. With the passion I have for our program as both a player and coach at Dalton for the last 23 years, there is no difference between the community’s expectations and my expectations for our program. Nobody is tougher on me than I am on myself, and I work toward meeting those expectations every day. The great part about working at Dalton is that everyone has the same goals for our program, and they are committed to pouring into our program to ensure we achieve them. There really is nothing like being a Dalton Catamount.”

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