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Memories of a Legend Part Two: Current and Former Players

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Memories of a Legend Part Two: Current and Former Players

Photo Credit: Daily Tribune

Photo Credit: Daily Tribune

Photo Credit: Daily Tribune

Photo Credit: Daily Tribune

Thomas Smith, Writer

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On Thursday, January 31, Cartersville head football coach Joey King announced that he would be leaving the team to take a job as a receivers coach at Coastal Carolina. Coach King earned a 67-4 record as the Canes’ head coach with state championships in 2015 and 2016, and another state championship appearance in 2018. To commemorate his time at CHS, Thomas Smith of the Chipper asked some players and coaches about their time with Coach King.

 

Current Players

Isaiah Chaney, Class of 2019, Defensive End

Smith: How would you describe your time under Coach King, with all the team has been able to accomplish?

 

Chaney: It’s been good being able to play under Coach King. I remember during my freshman year I almost moved schools. Coach King was one of my teachers and he had to sign my release form, but he wouldn’t sign it. So, he really made me stay here and he’s played a big role in me going to college to further my education and play this game that I love.

 

Smith: Obviously it’s a little bit different for you since you’re a senior, but what were your initial thoughts when you found out Coach King was taking another job?

 

Chaney: Everybody really looks up to him, so it really hit home with me too. He’s played a big role in my life and changed my life around. He’s helped me be able to go to college for free, bettered me to be a better man than a football player, and helped me find my identity in Christ.

 

Smith: How has Coach King affected you, as an athlete and personally?

 

Chaney: As an athlete, he pushes you to your limit everyday. There were no days off with him. Everyday, he wanted you to give your best, so he pushed me to be a better athlete. Freshman year, coming in, I didn’t expect to be in this position that I’m in, but he pushed me to be better.

 

Smith: How would you describe Coach King’s passion for his players and the game of football?

 

Chaney: He loves the players. He loves all of us. He really wants us to be better men than football players.

 

Smith: Do you have a favorite memory of Coach King?

 

Chaney: I remember, one day, we tried to jump on him in the locker room. The whole team tried to jump on him, but that didn’t really turn out well.

 

Smith: Obviously, you’re signed with Wake Forest. How has Coach King helped you through getting interest and even offers from colleges?

 

Chaney: He told me to take the game seriously, take the weight room seriously, and take class seriously, so I started doing all of that and offers started rolling in. I commend him for that because without him, I don’t think I’d be in the position that I am today.

 

Marquail Coaxum, Class of 2020, Cornerback/Wide Receiver

Smith: How would you describe your time under Coach King, with all the team has been able to accomplish?

 

Coaxum: It’s been a blessing to be with that man. He’s pushed me to do so much that I didn’t think I would be able to do by myself. He’s really inspired me to be the man that I am today, achieve the goals I’ve already achieved, and achieve my goals for the future.

 

Smith: What were your initial thoughts when you found out that Coach King was taking another job?

 

Coaxum: I thought, “Dang, he’s really leaving”, but then I looked on the bright side of it, how he’s doing this for betterment of him and his family. He’s really just trying to do better.

 

Smith: How has Coach King affected you, as an athlete and personally?

 

Coaxum: He’s affected me a lot. For me to go out and play my sophomore year and him believing in me to start on the team is a blessing. I didn’t see myself playing as a sophomore, due to my size, but he believed in me and let me play.

 

Smith: How would you describe Coach King’s passion for his players and the game of football?

 

Coaxum: He has a phenomenal passion for his players. He loves each and every one of us. When he was giving his speech, he was tearing up and I knew he really loved us and wanted to be there for us, but he has to look at what’s best for him and his family.

 

Smith: Do you have a favorite memory of Coach King?

 

Coaxum: When we were practicing for Marist he suited up with us and practiced with us. That was a good memory.

 

Smith: You recently got an offer from Troy. How has Coach King helped you through getting interest and even offers from colleges?

 

Coaxum: He’s helped a lot. When a school comes here, he usually introduces us to them. He’ll show them our film sometimes and talk to them about us. That really helps a lot.

 

Marko Dudley, Class of 2020, Safety/Wide Receiver

Smith: How would you describe your time under Coach King, with all the team has been able to accomplish?

 

Dudley: I was under Coach King for three years. My freshman year I remember winning the state championship and all the good times we had with all of the players and the coaches and the relationships that we built. My sophomore year I remember the heartbreak we had in the second round of the playoffs against Blessed Trinity and the way he helped us deal with the heartbreak and keep motivation going into the next season. This year we came in as underdogs the whole year. Nobody believed that we would make it as far as we did. For him to believe in us an help us get back to the state championship is incredible.

 

Smith: What were your initial thoughts when you found out that Coach King was taking another job?

 

Dudley: At first, I was upset, but as the day went on I realized that it was better for him, better for his family, and a better opportunity for him to grow as a role model and a coach.

 

Smith: How has Coach King affected you, as an athlete and personally?

 

Dudley: It’s been great to have him as a role model and a coach. He was one of the best human beings you could get to know with his personality and his faith. His faith ran his life and he shared that with the team and through everyday life

 

Smith: How would you describe Coach King’s passion for his players and the game of football?

 

Dudley: He loves everyone that he gets involved with. He loves the game. He’s a student of the game and he learns more about every single day. I don’t think there’s any way you can get to know him and not like him.

 

Smith: Do you have a favorite memory of Coach King?

 

Dudley: When we were practicing for Marist this year, he practiced with us in pads. One time, he was running the ball and I didn’t know it was him. He came up into the hole and I hit him hard. After practice he told me, “If you hit me like that again, I’m going to have you running after practice.” and I thought that was really funny.

 

Smith: You recently got an offer from Troy. How has Coach King helped you through getting interest and even offers from colleges?

 

Dudley: I think him being so well known throughout the football community and his national status helps bring coaches in here and helps everybody get exposure.

 

Jonah Gambill, Class of 2020, Offensive Tackle

Smith: How has Coach King affected you, as an athlete and personally?

 

Gambill: I came in freshman year and I was kind of small. I wanted to be a tight end, but Coach King was like, “No, you’re going to be on the O-line”. So, I thought, “Dang, I really have to get fat again!”. I was upset with him at first, but then sophomore year and junior year came and I gained a lot of weight and got a lot stronger. I ended up starting this year and now I can go to college for football because he pushed me. He turned me from a bad football player to a pretty good football player.

 

Smith: How would you describe Coach King’s passion for his players and the game of football?

 

Gambill: He’s got crazy passion for all of us. I can just tell by the way he runs practices, the way he coaches, and through his spiritual leadership that, no matter what he does, he cares more about how we grow as people than how we grow as football players. We prayed after every practice and, at the end of the day, he only cares about us being right with God and being right with ourselves. As for his love of the game, he obviously loves it a lot because he’s going to coach. You can’t not love football to go coach college football. He would tell us almost everyday that he loves football, God, us, and his family more than anything.

 

Smith: Do you have a favorite memory of Coach King?

 

Gambill: Everytime he would see me out in public, I would be driving my mom’s minivan. I would see him maybe once a month in public and everytime I would be filling up my mom’s minivan with gas or something. He’d pull up to the gas station and say, “Do you have a car or do you only drive the minivan?!”, I always thought that was funny.

 

Smith: You have offers from Coastal Carolina and Jacksonville State. How has Coach King helped you through getting interest and even offers from colleges?

 

Gambill: I didn’t really know when I was going to start getting interest from colleges, but in the middle of this season a lot of coaches started talking to me. Coach King, Coach Phillips, and Coach Perkins really exposed my film to a lot of coaches which helped a good bit. They also helped me with Twitter and helped me to get invited to events. I got my first offer at the end of the football season and then my second one right after that. I have lots of other colleges looking at me as well.

 

Marcus Gary, Class of 2019, Running Back

Smith: How would you describe your time under Coach King, with all the team has been able to accomplish?

 

Gary: It was amazing. A lot of people didn’t have faith in us since we lost Trevor Lawrence, but he pushed us to another level. We didn’t even know we had it in us until summer workouts. He showed us that it wasn’t all about Trevor and that we could get to the state championship off of hard work.

 

Smith: What were your initial thoughts when you found out that Coach King was taking another job?

 

Gary: Even though we seniors are done, it still hit pretty hard. I really felt sorry for the underclassmen. A lot of the time, the coaches spend more time with us than their own kids and we spend more time with them than our parents. So, we built great relationships and it’s tough to see him go.

 

Smith: How has Coach King affected you, as an athlete and personally?

 

Gary: He pushed me to be the best I can be. He pushed me as an athlete, but he also pushed me as a student and a person. So, I really feel like I have no limits, I feel like I can keep getting better and improving my game.

 

Smith: Do you have a favorite memory of Coach King?

 

Gary: My freshman year, we were playing at Ridgeland. We were up by two touchdowns at half time, but they were a bad team, so we were supposed to be up by forty points. We went into the locker room and Coach King walked in so calm. He paced around and said, “I know what the problem is.” then he hit one of the lockers really hard and said “We’re playing like we suck right now!”. Everybody jumped. It came out of nowhere. That’s one of the memories I’ll always remember.

 

Smith: How has Coach King helped you through getting interest and even offers from colleges?

 

Gary: He’s helped me a lot. He makes sure everybody gets looked at. When a coach comes to see a certain player, he tells him about everyone else. He gives our film out and really helps us. He’ll bring a math tutor in to help anyone who is struggling, so he helps us a lot and makes sure we have what we need to get to the next level.

 

Bobby Harris, Class of 2019, Defensive End

Smith: How would you describe your time under Coach King, with all the team has been able to accomplish?

 

Harris: It’s something that you will never forget. He really played a major part in my life. He teaches you a lot of things, whether it be God, family, or football. He really just teaches you everything and tells you how to order your steps.

 

Smith: What were your initial thoughts when you found out that Coach King was taking another job?

 

Harris: I kind of saw it coming. I really thought he was going to leave after last season, but at the same time he’s got to do what’s best for him and his family. There’s a lot of people who wouldn’t have stayed after Trevor Lawrence left, so I commend him for that.

 

Smith: How has Coach King affected you, as an athlete and personally?

 

Harris: He taught me how to wake up early and be on time for stuff. He’s really taught me a lot about being a man. He’s an honorable man and he lives everything that he talks about. He’s one person you can look at and model yourself after.

 

Smith: How would you describe Coach King’s passion for his players and the game of football?

 

Harris: He’s got a lot of passion for everything: his players, football, his family, and God. He was always on the players. He never let up. Even when everyone was doubting us all season, he still stepped and said, “We can do this guys. We’ve got this.” He was always there to give us that pep talk we needed.

 

Smith: Do you have a favorite memory of Coach King?

 

Harris: My favorite memory is hitting him in practice. I hope everybody knows this. I hit him as hard as I could and knocked him on his back. He put on the pads to play scout team quarterback and I was lucky enough to get the tackle.

 

Smith: You just signed with Wingate University. How has Coach King helped you through getting interest and even offers from colleges?

 

Harris: He basically told me that when it came down to my decision, I needed to do whatever made me happy. Basically, do whatever is best for me and my family. We’ve talked multiple times, over the phone and in person, about my future. He was always there to talk whenever I needed guidance.

 

Amarai Orr, Class of 2021, Defensive Back

Smith: How would you describe your time under Coach King, with all the team has been able to accomplish?

 

Orr: He’s a remarkable coach and what he’s done is unbelievable. He’s helped turn me into someone I didn’t think I would be. He’s helped me keep my head straight and without him, I don’t think I’d be where I am right now.

 

Smith: What were your initial thoughts when you found out that Coach King was taking another job?

 

Orr: When he started giving his speech, I kind of knew what was going on. I was crying when he said it. I was really sad, but I had to feel happy for him and his family.

 

Smith: How has Coach King affected you, as an athlete and personally?

 

Orr: My connection with the Lord has gotten stronger. He’s really shown me what life is about and what’s really important in life.

 

Smith: How would you describe Coach King’s passion for his players and the game of football?

 

Orr: It’s insane. All the time and dedication he puts in is amazing. I really hope to see him do great things moving forward.

 

Smith: Do you have a favorite memory of Coach King?

 

Orr: He always says, “You’re either growing or decaying”. That’s his favorite phrase and it’s true.

 

Devonte Ross, Class of 2021, Wide Receiver/Defensive Back

Smith: How would you describe your time under Coach King, with all the team has been able to accomplish?

 

Ross: It was good. He’s a really good and smart coach, but more importantly he’s a good man. He makes sure we get our grades right, keep our character straight, and just makes sure we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing.

 

Smith: What were your initial thoughts when you found out that Coach King was taking another job?

 

Ross: When he first called the meeting, everyone was joking about if he was going to leave, but nobody really though it was going to happen. When he actually said it I was in disbelief. I didn’t think it was going to happen this early. It was crazy.

 

Smith: How has Coach King affected you, as an athlete and personally?

 

Ross: I don’t do very well in school, so he just stayed on top of me about that, and in the weight room he just pushed me to get bigger and stronger.

 

Smith: How would you describe Coach King’s passion for his players and the game of football?

 

Ross: He has a lot of passion. He’s hyped everyday, especially on Fridays. During pregame speeches he’s always hyping us up and making sure we’re ready. He always understands the task at hand and makes sure we’re prepared.

 

Smith: Do you have a favorite memory of Coach King?

 

Ross: He always makes fun of my pants. I like to wear a lot of colorful pants, so he makes fun of them all the time.

 

Stratton Tripp, Class of 2021, Quarterback

Smith: How much did Coach King and the legacy he created at Cartersville impact your decision to move here?

 

Tripp: It definitely played a big role in me coming here. Obviously, I want to continue the legacy and be in a good program. The culture of the school is one of the big things that brought me here. The attraction that y’all brought with the state championships and the way y’all work down here brought me in.

 

Smith: What were your first thoughts when Coach King announced he would be leaving to take another job?

 

Tripp: Obviously, it’s going to affect the program, but I don’t think much is going to change as far as culture and how we work as a team. He is a big offensive-minded guy, but I really don’t think it’s going to make that much of an impact.

 

Smith: From the limited time you had with Coach King, how would you describe his passion for his players and the game of football?

 

Tripp: He definitely has a great passion for the sport and for the brotherhood we have on the team. He’s really impacted a lot of people’s lives, as I can tell. I’ve only been here for about three weeks, but from the way players and other people talked about him I can tell he was a very good man and was held to a very high standard.

 

Tee Webb, Class of 2020, Quarterback

Smith: How would you describe your time under Coach King, with all the team has been able to accomplish?

 

Webb: Coach King was a really good mentor to me. I can’t thank him enough for all he’s done for me and the guys around me. He’s really brought me up from a really small kid to what I am today and I can’t thank him enough for that.

 

Smith: What were your first thoughts when Coach King announced he would be leaving to take another job?

 

Webb: I had mixed emotions. I was very sad, but at the same time I’m really happy for him. It’s a big opportunity for him and he deserves it.

 

Smith: How has Coach King affected you, as an athlete and personally?

 

Webb: As a person, he’s really poured into me and has helped me grow up.

 

Smith: How would you describe Coach King’s passion for his players and the game of football?

 

Webb: Coach King’s passion is unmatched. He is the most passionate person on the field, most of the time, and he likes to see that from his players too.

 

Smith: Do you have a favorite memory of Coach King?

 

Webb: I have a memory of getting on his bad side. One time we had to do 133 up-downs during the summer for being late to practice. He really gets on us about things like that, but he loves us.

 

Smith: You’re getting a lot of hype from colleges. You have offers from lots of big schools, including Miami, Louisville, and Georgia Tech. How has Coach King helped you through getting interest and even offers from colleges?

 

Webb: He’s helped me in a big way, just keeping my head on straight and playing my game. He’s helped me not to worry about it too much and just play my game to the best of my ability.

 

Blake Woods, Class of 2020, Offensive Tackle

Smith: How would you describe your time under Coach King, with all the team has been able to accomplish?

 

Woods: There’s a lot of pressure on you because you’re trying to live up to his expectations. You don’t want to let him down. He’s a great leader. He always pushes us the extra mile and we know we have to live up to his expectations.

 

Smith: What were your first thoughts when Coach King announced he would be leaving to take another job?

 

Woods: I was mad and sad at the same time, but I know that I can’t be mad because he’s doing what’s best for him and his family.

 

Smith: Do you have a favorite memory of Coach King?

 

Woods: One of the memories that I remember the most was during practice one day. I was doing very well, so he took me out and was yelling in my face. It’s not a happy memory, but it’s one that I’ll remember because it made me mentally better.

 

Former Players

Jonathan Cruz, Class of 2018, Kicker, Charlotte

Smith: How would you describe your time under Coach King, with all the team was able to accomplish?

 

Cruz: It was a great opportunity that was given at the right time. My class was a special group. We all came in when he had just started. He made us better, stronger, and taught us much more than just football.

 

Smith: How did Coach King affect you, as an athlete and personally?

 

Cruz: It’s everything you look for in a coach. He felt like more than a coach most of the time. He taught all of us the understanding of life and really affected everyone he was around.

 

Smith: How would you describe Coach King’s passion for his players and the game of football?

 

Cruz: No words can describe what he did for others. He loved every single player out there and never let them fail.

 

Smith: Do you have a favorite memory of Coach King?

 

Cruz: Probably winning two state championships with him.

 

Smith: How did Coach King help you through getting interest and even offers from colleges?

 

Cruz: Without him, I wouldn’t be where I am today. He makes sure you’re on your grades to get to the next level. He will take care of getting coaches to see you and find you a new home after high school.

 

Miller Forristall, Class of 2016, Tight End, Alabama

Smith: How would you describe your time under Coach King, with all the team was able to accomplish?

 

Forristall: I had two years of Coach King as my head coach and they might have been the most fun I’ve ever had playing football. That team was a family, no matter your race, age, or position and we treated it as such.

 

Smith: How did Coach King affect you, as an athlete and personally?

 

Forristall: He had had a tremendous impact on me and I still talk to him pretty regularly. He’s a man that I can look up to, to see how to do things right in family, work, and faith. The only things he loves more than football is God and his family.

 

TJ Horton, Class of 2018, Wide Receiver, Chattanooga

Smith: How would you describe your time under Coach King, with all the team was able to accomplish?

 

Horton: My time with Coach King was very good. I was pushed to a limit I didn’t know I could reach and it was a great feeling to win the state championship twice. A lot of people do not get that chance.

 

Smith: How did Coach King affect you, as an athlete and personally?

 

Horton: Coach King helped me grow more as a man. He taught me a lot about responsibility. As an athlete, he created the work ethic that I have today.

 

Smith: How would you describe Coach King’s passion for his players and the game of football?

 

Horton: Coach King’s passion for his players was like no other. He loved every single one of us, no matter what.

 

Smith: Do you have a favorite memory of Coach King?

 

Horton: He heard from some other players that I was planning on quitting football to focus on basketball. He brought me into his office and told me he would fight me if he heard that again. Of course, he was joking, but if I had quit football I would not be playing at the collegiate level.

 

Smith: How did Coach King help you through getting interest and offers from colleges?

 

Horton: He was respected by all coaches, so he helped a lot and gave me great advice on what I should do with the opportunities I had.

 

Nick Root, Class of 2018, Offensive Line, Carson Newman

Smith: How would you describe your time under Coach King, with all the team was able to accomplish?

 

Root: It was like a dream come true. To be able to win a state championship with brothers that you have played with since rec ball is a great feeling. I was blessed enough to win two under Coach King’s leadership. It made my high school experience very enjoyable. It was truly a blessing to be coached by him and many other coaches at Cartersville.

 

Smith: How did Coach King affect you, as an athlete and personally?

 

Root: Coach King showed all of his players a great model of a Christian father-figure. That was huge for a lot of kids on the team that didn’t have one in their house. He and Coach Perkins pushed me in the weight room and on the field and helped form me into the athlete I am today.

 

Smith: How would you describe Coach King’s passion for his players and the game of football?

 

Root: He has a true passion for coaching football. A great example of that is the hours he spends behind his desk watching film. It showed every Friday how prepared he was regardless of the team we were playing. There were many times I would drive by the school on a weekend and he was there breaking down film. I would drive by again hours later and sure enough his truck was still there. He also has a very high football IQ. There is no doubt in my mind that he will excel at the college level. He loved and cared about all of his players so much that you wanted to play hard not just for yourself, but for him. He cared more about us and our relationship with Christ then he did about us as football players.

 

Smith: Do you have a favorite memory of Coach King?

 

Root: After we won the semi-final game my sophomore year against Liberty County. Coach King came in the locker room dancing and he dabbed. He is always very professional, so it was hilarious.

 

Smith: How did Coach King help you through getting interest and even offers from colleges?

 

Root: Coach King helped me become the player I am and helped me get bigger and stronger in the weight room. He and other coaches vouched for me to college coaches of what kind of player I was. Also, with all the games we won under him I got to play 5 more games then most high school players. He and many other coaches at Cartersville helped me live out a childhood dream of playing college football and I can’t thank those guys enough.

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Memories of a Legend Part Two: Current and Former Players