Ultimately, it was Joey King who was named Cartersville’s head football coach Thursday after the City of Cartersville Board of Education unanimously voted in favor of Super intendant Howard Hinesley’s recommendation that King be hired.
“The past three years, I’ve had head coaching opportunities, but I’ve been waiting for a good situation and this is a very good situation,” King said Thursday. “I set my goals high and refuse to settle, and it payed off in the long run. I’m very happy to be here.”
King brings along with him six years of experience as an assistant coach at Carrollton High, where he was the offensive coordinator through the team’s run to the 2013 GHSA Class AAAA state championship game. He graduated from Carson-Newman College in 2005, where he played quarterback.
Cartersville High Principal Steve Butler headed the staff of seven community members and school representatives who were assigned to recommend the new head football coach. Butler said King was clearly the top choice according to his committee.
“It was a tough process. I feel like the other candidates were completely qualified but, as one of the committee members said, ‘[King] just had that “it” factor,’” Butler said. “There was this compassion and care for the players that he expressed. That really set him apart. He talked about the importance of teaching the kids instead of just talking about football.”
This will be King’s first head coaching position. Carolyn Johnson of the school board inquired about whether King’s age and inexperience would be a factor when she asked, “Do you feel like you might be intimidated by a 6-4, 280 pound lineman?”
King replied, “No, ma’am, I do not. Denzel Washington had a quote in the movie ‘Remember the Titans.’ He said, ‘I do not scratch my head unless it itches. I do not dance unless I hear some music. I will not be intimidated.’”
Along with the youth and energy he will bring to the Cartersville football program, Butler also believes King will bring experience from a successful program, which was important to the committee during the hiring process.
“One of the things that we talk about a lot around here is, ‘Why aren’t we a Carrollton? Why aren’t we a Buford?’” Butler said. “We’re steeped in tradition. Those places are as well. I think a huge factor was, being in a place like Carrollton, he knows what the expectation is here.”
King said his first order of business will be to talk to coaches and players. He believes his coaching staff will include several coaches from the previous Cartersville coaching staff.
“Everything you look at says you need to figure the who over the what. So my first order is to get in here and get around these coaches that are here, and make sure we’re on the same page,” King said. “Next, I’m going to talk to the kids and let them know I’m here, and let them know we’re going to do things the right way.”
King’s Carrollton offense averaged nearly 261 rushing yards per game in 2013. He plans to bring a similar offensive approach to Cartersville.
“We’re going to run Auburn-type stuff and run the power here,” King said. “The offensive philosophy is going to be fundamentally sound, extremely efficient and score a lot of points. We’re going to focus on the little things and doing them right. We’re going to run the football, throw it when we want to, not when we have to.
“I’m all about spreading the field out horizontally to create vertical advantage. We’re going to put some of those skill kids that we have here and let them play in space.”
King is looking forward to working with some of Cartersville’s returning players.
“I’ve seen some film on Hudl. Specific names, I’m not 100 percent familiar, but I know there is an extremely high talent level,” King said. “There are some great skill kids and some returners at some key spots. It’s something I’m very excited about.”
King will replace Frank Barden, who took the head coaching job at Stephens County in February. Cartersville was 154-58-1 in 18 seasons under Barden, including a state championship.
King will look to continue that tradition in future seasons.
“Be champions,” King said when asked what his goals were for the program. “Not just be champions on the field, although that’s a big part of it, but winning ballgames and being a champion on the field gives you a platform to be champions in your lives. The goal is to be champions, not just on the field, but in the classroom because this is a great place and the bar is set high in every area.”