Marion County High School wasted little time, and didn't have to look far to find its new head football coach. Joey Mathis, who has been the Warriors offensive coordinator the past two seasons, agreed to take the offer to become the program's coach. He replaces Ricky Ross, who left last Wednesday to become the new defensive coordinator at McCallie.
Mathis, 39, helped guide Marion to the Class 2A state championship game each of his two seasons with the program, with the offense averaging 40-plus points in each season. Marion failed to score 30-plus only five times in 29 games since Mathis took over as the playcaller.
"It wasn't a hard decision for me," Mathis said, shortly after informing the teamon Sunday afternoon. "I've been here for two years and even though I didn't come here with the intention of being a head coach, the players, the other coaches, our administration and the community have really made me feel comfortable.
"My desk is only about six feet from where Rick's was, but it's a huge step. When he left it was unexpected, but I am humbled that the people here have that much confidence and trust in me to take over a program with so much history behind it."
Mathis is a 1995 graduate of Calhoun (Ga.) High, where he played quarterback. He later played at Cumberland University, where he was roommates with Ross and where he later began his coaching career as a graduate assistant. He also worked at Adairsville and Pepperell High Schools in Georgia as well as Shorter College. During his career he has worked as a defensive coordinator and special teams coach as well as offensive coordinator.
Mathis becomes the Warriors 10th head coach in the past 20 years and according to school administrators, Mathis' assurance that he would make a long-term commitment to the program helped solidify him as the choice.
"I feel blessed beyond belief to have somebody of his quality and character take over the program," Marion County principal Sherry Prince said. "I have 100-percent confidence in the job he will do for our program.
"After talking with him, I believe his heart is here and his intention is to stay here and lead our program for some time."
Ross was also the school's athletic director, but that position will be filled at a later date according to Prince.