King brings winning pedigree, college lessons to Carrollton

Cartersville coach Joey King never tires of talking up the quarterback that helped him to two state titles.
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Cartersville coach Joey King never tires of talking up the quarterback that helped him to two state titles.

New Carrollton coach Joey King can’t say whether his latest career move was a case of his looking for high school football again or it looking for him.

’'It’s a combination of both,’' he said this week, now more than three months on the job. “My family and I have been prayerful to see God’s plan and where it leads us. That’s where we want to be. The door opened for college ball, and now this door has opened. We’ve been in Carrollton before. We missed the community feel. It’s something we value.’'

King, a college assistant the past two seasons at Coastal Carolina and South Florida, is back in west Georgia at a school where he a name for himself as an offensive coordinator about a decade ago. On staff there five seasons, King was a big part of the Trojans’ state runner-up teams in 2010 and 2013 under head coach Rayvan Teague.

King then moved on to Cartersville, where he did his most impressive work, winning state titles as a head coach in 2015 and 2016 and posting the best five-year record to start a career in Georgia history, 67-4.

It helped having Trevor Lawrence as quarterback those first four seasons, but if any extra validation was necessary, King then led Cartersville to a Class 4A runner-up finish in 2017, when Lawrence had moved on to Clemson.

Carrollton, on the other hand, hasn’t made a state final since the 2013 team. The the Class 6A program has remained elite, averaging 10.2 wins the past five seasons, but each has ended in the quarterfinals.

Getting that far again in 2021 won’t be easy, either, as Carrollton returns only five starters. The lone defensive regular back is a freshman, nose guard Jordan Cardentey.

’'We’re not going to focus on having a good team, but a total program,’' King said. ’'We want to have our imprint on these players from time they’re in diapers until it’s time walk on that stage (for graduation). It’s not just about this year, but about what we’re trying to do in the long run.’'

With that ideal in mind, King has hired six coaches from outside the program while rehiring several from the previous staff of Sean Calhoun, who became head coach at Vestavia Hills in Alabama.

King’s first call was to Reggie Perkins, who had been Cartersville’s assistant head coach and co-offensive coordinator. Perkins and King played college ball together at Carson-Newman. Perkins will coordinate Carrollton’s offense.

The defensive coordinator will be Justin Montgomery, who served in that role at Thomasville last season. He’s also be defensive coordinator at Valdosta and Warner Robins.

“We’ve got a lot of good men coming in,’' King said. “Priority No. 1 was finding the right people. There are thousands of good coaches out there, but we emphasize finding the right men impacting lives and who happen to be good coaches as well.’'

King, a high school quarterback at Cedartown, then in college, is noted for his offenses, and his grasp of putting up points presumably got only sharper at the college level.

’'I feel like we could write a book on what you learn,’' said King, who then listed some of the football minds that he had to draw on. Coastal Carolina’s Jamey Chadwell, who hired King, was the Associated Press national coach of the year last season. South Florida’s Jeff Scott, head coach at King’s next stop, worked for 12 seasons under Dabo Swinney at Clemson.

’'Those are two good umbrellas to work under from a coaches standpoint,’' King said.

King also cited the influence of South Florida’s offensive coordinator, Charlie Weis Jr., who has worked closely with Lane Kiffin, Steven Sarkisian and his father, Charlie Weiss Sr.

To what extend any new ideas will migrate immediately to Carrollton, and what they’d look like, remains to be seen.

’'These ideas look good on paper, but until you get on the grass with these kids, it’s all subject to change,’' King said. ’'It’s not what these kids know, but what they know and what they can do. So that’s the most important part of this spring, figuring out what they can do.’'

Spring practice will begin May 3.

And it will be more than X’s and O’s, of course. New coaches always talk about cultivating the right new culture. Carrollton has won enough that it doesn’t need lessons on winning. But King has won enough that Carrollton is all ears about now.

’'I think it’s about loving each other,’' he said. “If you get a group of kids that believe in a staff and care about each other, there’s lot of strength and value in that. In today’s society, the individual trumps the team too often, so I’m looking for kids who love ball and each other and what they can do for us and the community collectively. That’s to me the biggest ingredient they have to have.’'

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