This story was updated Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, at 8:30 p.m. with more information.
Joey Mathis is going home, or at least close to it. Mathis resigned as Marion County's football coach Tuesday to accept the job as head coach at Coosa High in Rome, Georgia, which is closer to where much of his family currently lives.
"Me and my family have not been at Marion long, but we feel like we've been adopted as family by the community," said Mathis, who played and graduated from Calhoun High in 1995. "For that reason this has been a difficult decision. The timing and the opportunity to take a job back home in Floyd County closer to my parents and extended family was just something I could not pass up."
Mathis, 43, had worked at Marion County for six seasons, the first two as offensive coordinator where he helped the Warriors reach the Class 2A state championship game in back-to-back years with an offense that averaged 40-plus points. He also guided Marion to a state runner-up finish in his first season as head coach and to the quarterfinals the following year.
During his time as Warriors coach, Mathis also had three players named finalists for the Mr. Football award, including 2016 when two of the state's three finalists were Marion players, with Alex Kirkendoll winning the honor. He also had 13 players who earned college scholarships during his four seasons as head coach.
After playing quarterback at Calhoun, Mathis played at Cumberland University, where he also began his coaching career as a graduate assistant. He worked at Adairsville and Pepperell high schools in northwestern Georgia as well as Shorter University in Rome before coming to Marion as an assistant. During his career he has worked as a defensive coordinator and special teams coach as well as offensive coordinator.
"I'm very thankful for my time here, both as an assistant and as the head coach," Mathis added. "I am thankful to the coaches and their families, players past and present, administration and the community.
"I feel like the timing is right to step down, and I know whoever comes in will be stepping into a program on the rise. The players are committed to the process and have grown tremendously these past few years. I leave here with many lasting relationships and some great memories and wish nothing but the best for Marion County moving forward."
He leaves Marion with a 26-23 overall record, helping the program reach the playoffs all four seasons he was head coach. That's the most wins among the eight coaches who have guided the program since Ken Colquette stepped down after the 1996 season.
"Coach Mathis leaves big shoes to fill," Marion principal Sherry Prince said. "He taught more than football, and his character example for the players is something we will miss, too. Our players left the program as well-prepared young men.
"(Assistant coach) Randy Kirkpatrick will serve as the interim coach while we begin the process of advertising the job. We have a lot of confidence in Coach K that we won't miss a beat, and we'll move quickly to find our next coach."
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.