Joey King ready to bring winning ways to Carrollton

Photo Courtesy of 247Sports

Joey King was in the Lawrence living room on April 29 when quarterback Trevor Lawrence received a call from the Jacksonville Jaguars and informed the Clemson star that he was the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Now, as Lawrence embarks on a new journey in the NFL, his former Cartersville coach gets an opportunity to return to coaching high school football at Carrollton, where he served as an assistant coach and offensive coordinator from 2008-2013.

While King will not have the luxury of coaching one of the state’s finest quarterback prospects in history, his impressive resume is more than enough to prove his merit as a head coach. From 2014-2018, King led Cartersville to region championships in every season, claimed back-to-back state championships in 2015 and 2016 and reached the title game four times. King has a career record of 67-4 and holds the Georgia record as the fastest coach to 50 wins after accomplishing the feat in only 52 games.

“It was great to be a head coach and leave my fingerprints on the [Cartersville] program,” said King. “Every year I wanted the graduating seniors to come back and be mad at me because we were doing something better than we did during their senior years and they did.”

King’s impressive Cartersville tenure also caught the attention of those at the collegiate level. After 2018, King received a phone call from Jamey Chadwell, a longtime friend who had just been promoted to head coach at Coastal Carolina University. With an offensive coaching position open, Chadwell was interested in bringing King in to be Coastal’s newest wide receivers coach. Although it was a difficult decision for King, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to coach for a college program.

“I loved being in control as a head coach, and I knew I was going to give up all of that and be in an uncomfortable situation,” said King. “But sometimes you have to be uncomfortable in order to grow. It was a tremendous learning experience, and I got to be around some really great guys.”

King’s presence was felt in the 2019 season as the Chanticleers were first in the Sun Belt in completion percentage (65.0%) and finished second in the nation in fourth-down conversions (79.3%). Though King only coached one season at Coastal, he was proud to leave his mark on the program as he witnessed one of his former receivers, Jaivon Heiligh, recently earn 2020 All-Sun Belt First Team honors and be named to the 2020 Biletnikoff Award Watch List.

Last season, King worked as a tight ends coach at USF under head coach Jeff Scott, who was a previous offensive coordinator at Clemson University. However, with the Carrollton head coaching job vacant, King was ready to return to the Trojans.

“This [coaching at Carrollton] was all about timing and the right opportunity,” said King. “And we felt like God was calling us back to high school football.”

There has been plenty of buzz around Carrollton since the King hire was announced in January. However, despite the press that King has received over the years from his time in Cartersville and relationship with Lawrence, King does not feel the pressure that many coaches might struggle with upon hire.

“I’ve been in some high pressure situations before, but pressure is created by external factors,” said King. “The only opinions that matter are the ones in this locker room and from our coaching staff. Pressure is for people who don’t prepare.”

Preparation has been a constant for King throughout his career. For someone who wanted to be a head coach early on in his career, King worked tirelessly to be as prepared as possible when he earned the Cartersville job and is already outlining his plans to bring Carrollton its first state championship since 1998.

While King’s first Carrollton team will only return five total starters, he is not ruling out the possibility of a region championship in year one and believes a state championship victory is a very attainable future goal, as the Trojans have reached five straight quarterfinals heading into this season.

“I never say never,” said King. “We [Carrollton] lost a lot and we’ve got our work cut out for us but nothing is impossible. There’s a lot of merit to teams that buy in, believe and start playing with that love and passion for each other. That can start to trump some size and speed.”

Possibly King’s favorite part about being back in Carrollton is the community and its support for all things involving the Trojan football team. This season, King is hopeful that he can relay the same love to his team and build another winning culture.

“There’s a sense of pride here for being a Trojan,” said King. “We’re going to fight for each other. We’re going to believe in each other and love each other, and I want our kids to have a fun experience with this thing.”

Throughout spring practice, King echoed the phrase “find a way” to his team. Additionally, he has already begun to emphasize the core values he wants his team to build around: guts, gratitude, unity, toughness and sacrifice. While each one is significant, King perhaps feels the strongest about gratitude and that impact that it’s had on getting his athletes to buy into his program.

“I believe gratitude is the most powerful emotion,” said King. “If you’re truly grateful for what you have and the situation that you’re in, the love for each other becomes greater. We’re grateful for the past Trojans that have laid the foundation we’re standing on today, and we’re present Trojans focused on leaving a legacy for those Trojans of tomorrow.”

Coach King wants to win in Carrollton, but he’s also looking forward to raising his three children and building incredible relationships with all of his players. King hopes that when his players graduate they will leave knowing that he cared for them not for their talents on the field but for who they were as individuals.

Joey King has found the hometown feel he’s been looking for in Carrollton, Georgia and is once again aiming to leave his mark on another promising football program. As the high school football season continues to get closer, King is frequently reminded of his favorite local phrase: “There ain’t nothing like being a Trojan on Friday night in Carrollton, Georgia.”



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