Joey Mathis has enjoyed his time coaching in Tennessee, but when the opportunity to return closer to where he grew up, he couldn’t let it pass.
“Where I’m at is special, and I’ve enjoyed my time here,” Mathis said. “But there’s nothing like coming home.”
The former Calhoun quarterback, who still has family in the area, is returning to Northwest Georgia after being hired as the new Coosa High School head football coach.
Mathis has served as head football coach for Marion County High School in Jasper, Tennessee, the last four seasons, and was the team’s offensive coordinator the two seasons before that. He was an assistant at Adairsville and Pepperell high schools, and Shorter University before then.
Mathis said his time coaching in Floyd County made him familiar with former Coosa head coach Todd Wheeler, who’s been a longtime coach in the area. Wheeler stepped down as the head coach for the Eagles in November.
“I’ve known Todd a long time, and I respect Todd quite a bit,” Mathis said. “When I was growing up, you always looked to coach Wheeler. He was a Georgia guy and a good football coach. He’s done a good job, and when he stepped down it was appealing to me. I’m very thankful for the administration and the superintendent for giving me this opportunity.”
Coosa athletic director Jeff Shifflet, who worked with Mathis during their days at Pepperell when Shiflett was head coach for the Dragons, said Mathis’ knowledge of the area will be an asset for the Eagles.
“He has a really good understanding of this area, so he knows about the schools and the traditions,” Shiflett said. “That will allow him to hit the ground running. He’s got some good ideas that will benefit the program. He’s a guy that really gets involved, and I’m looking forward to getting him down here.”
Coosa Principal La Donna Turrentine said Mathis was what they were looking for in a coach to help revive a program that’s gone 5-16 over the past two seasons. The Eagles last reached the playoffs in 2018.
“We wanted to jump on it quick and we wanted to find top notch talent,” Turrentine said. “We wanted someone who could come in and ignite a passion and a fire for football.”
Turrentine said she was impressed by Mathis’ emphasis on other aspects of student life beside sports.
“After interviewing him he really proved to me how much he cares about the whole child — emotionally, academically and athletically,” Turrentine said. “He will run a solid program. He knows Floyd County so he knows the expectations. He’s just coming home.”
Mathis takes over a program that has only made the playoffs four times in the past 10 years but has had a rich football history in Floyd County.
“I hope to bring excitement to the program and intensity in the way they play,” Mathis said. “I know coach Wheeler and his staff have done a good job. I want to come in and take a fresh, new outlook and move some pieces around and see if we can get kids in the right spot.
“I’m looking forward to getting back there and in the community and getting involved in the middle school and seeing what I can do to advance on some of the groundwork he laid.”
Turrentine is eager to see what Mathis will accomplish as coach for the Eagles. Mathis leaves Tennessee with success, leading Marion County to a 26-23 record and reaching the state playoffs in each of his four seasons at the helm.
“He’s very enthusiastic, and I can’t wait,” Turrentine said. “I’m very excited about the upcoming season. Coach Mathis will be an excellent addition to Coosa High School. He brings an excitement and intensity that is contagious. We can’t wait to hear him say, ‘It’s great to be a Coosa Eagle.’”