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Johnson County football has family atmosphere

August 11th, 2014 6:42 am by Joe Avento

Johnson County football has family atmosphere

Nathan Arnold (19), Will Kerley (15), Shane Greer (85), Warren Kerley (18) and Jake Greer (28) are all nephews of new coach Don Kerley, right. Tom Kerley is on the left. (Joe Avento/Johnson City Press)

MOUNTAIN CITY — Family matters on the Johnson County High School football team.

First-year head coach Don Kerley inherited a team with five of his nephews. In addition, his twin brother, Tom, will be the defensive coordinator.

“There’s a lot of family here,” Kerley said. “So it is exciting.”

The list of nephews begins with senior quarterback Warren Kerley. He’s the new defensive coordinator’s son and was a 1,000-yard passer last season. 

“It’s fun playing for him,” Warren Kerley said about his uncle.  “He’s a little tougher on me. But that’s good. We want to be good and I want to be pushed.”

Other nephews of Kerley on the team are senior tight end Jake Greer and freshmen Will Kerley, Nathan Arnold and Shane Greer. Warren Kerley and Arnold are the only two quarterbacks on the roster.

Don Kerley graduated from Johnson County in 1989 after a standout career as a quarterback that landed him at Wofford College. His first coaching job was at Johnson County as well. He spent the last nine years coaching in Georgia. When Mike Atwood resigned from Johnson County after 16 years at the helm, Kerley couldn’t resist.

“The opportunity to come back was appealing,” he said. “My family has always been here, but it isn’t a vacation spot any more. It’s time to get to work. The school’s in better shape than what is was in 25 years ago and the community is real simil ar.”

“I’m glad to have him back home,” Tom said.

So are the nephews.

“We like him a lot, obviously. He’s our uncle,” said Jake Greer, who moved from center to tight end this season. “He knows what he’s talking about. He and my other uncle, they’re just football geniuses. They know what they’re doing. They’re gonna coach us up good.”

And none of the nephews expect any preferential treatment.

“Any time we’re down here on the football field, it’s ‘Coach,’ ” Greer said. “I don’t even think he thinks I’m his nephew when we’re playing football. I’m just a player.”

Warren Kerley doesn’t get much coaching from the defensive coaches, but having to play against his dad’s defense in practice means he’s going to hear about certain plays from time to time.

“If I make a bad pass in practice, sometimes I hear him yell ‘Kerley, throw a better ball,’ “ Warren said.

But that doesn’t have anything to do with coaching.

“He’s gonna get that whether I’m coaching him or in the stands,” Tom Kerley said.

Tom joined the staff when his brother became the head coach, and he’s enjoying coaching his kids and nephews.

“It’s pretty awesome getting to coach them,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been fun.

“They’re all good kids. They all play hard  and they’re easy to coach.”

The Longhorns are coming off a 5-7 season, and they beat Chuckey-Doak in the playoffs last year for their first postseason victory since 1988. With the new coach changing from the I-formation of his predecessor to the Wing-T, it has been a preseason of learning for the Longhorns, who lost 3,500-yard career rusher Patrick South to graduation.

“The new offense was tough to learn at first, but doing it for a couple weeks has been OK,” Warren Kerley said. “He gave us playbooks and we studied it during the summer. It’s fine. We’re ready to go.”

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