Johnson City Press Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sports High schools

Johnson County job brings Kerley back

June 17th, 2014 9:55 pm by Douglas Fritz

Johnson County job brings Kerley back

Johnson County went back to some glory days to find a new head football coach.

Former standout quarterback Don Kerley was selected to replace Mike Atwood, who resigned last week after 16 years as the Longhorns’ head coach.

Kerley, who helped Johnson County reach the second round of the playoffs in 1988, said he wanted to come back home after nine years of coaching in Georgia.

“This was a good opportunity for me,” said Kerley.  “I have family here, and several nephews on the team.”

After his high school career, Kerley went on to Wofford College and played under Mike Ayers. He said he was mostly a special teams player, but knew he wanted to be a coach.

Kerley was head coach at West Greene from 1996-98, compiling a record of 5-25. He was head coach at Sequoyah from 2001-04 with a record of 12-28. However, his 2003 team at Sequoyah went 6-4, and reached the playoffs. 

This is his third opportunity, and may be the best one yet.

“We’re definitely excited,” said Kerley. “It shouldn’t be a rebuilding year. They had some success last year and made the playoffs, and they’ve got a lot of guys returning.

“I drove by Elizabethton and saw them working, so we’re going to have to get after it. It’s a tough schedule for us, but if we work at the level of the other teams I believe we can compete.”

Kerley was the offensive coordinator at Claxton, Ga., and prior to that held the same position at Gilmer County. But he was also a defensive coordinator prior to becoming head coach at Sequoyah.

He said he doesn’t know what style he will try at Johnson County.

“It depends on the talent,” said Kerley.

Taking over at this time of year is not ideal, said Kerley.

“Offseason workouts are just so important,” he said. “It’s going to be tough. It would be tough for anybody. We’ve got Tennessee High in Week Zero, and that’s a good-sized school.

“I just got here, and I’m going to have to put a coaching staff together quickly. But the school is well-kept, and there are a lot of good players here.”

Johnson County principal Lisa Arnold said Kerley was the right person for the job.

“He wanted to come back, and the timing couldn’t have been better,” said Arnold. “We were thrilled. We posted it Thursday, and he applied. He was just like a Godsend. We are tickled to death.”

Arnold said the program is at a really good place for Kerley to take over.

“Last year we made it to the second round of the playoffs, and we didn’t have many kids graduate,” said Arnold. “We should have a strong team this year.”

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