Exactly two weeks after Dell McGee announced his resignation from Carver High, the Tigers have their new football coach.
Joseph Kegler, who served as offensive coordinator for the football team the past two seasons, was named as McGee’s successor, the school announced in a release on Thursday.
Kegler was a member of McGee’s staff for each of the past six seasons, serving as the offensive line coach for the first four before taking over as coordinator in 2011. Over that span, he helped coach the team to six consecutive region championships and a state title in 2007.
Kegler was also a 2001 graduate of Carver and played football under longtime coach Wallace Davis.
“It’s always great to come home to start with and to work with great kids and parents,” Kegler said. “Now, to have the opportunity to continue the success we’ve had over the past six years is just excellent. It’s such a blessing.”
When talking about finding a replacement for McGee, who took a position on Auburn University’s support staff, Carver principal Christopher Lindsey said it would be important to find an individual who could extend Carver’s success on the field while maintaining the emphasis on academics and growth off the field.
Lindsey said that it ultimately took a couple of weeks to make the decision, but when it came down to it, one name continued to float to the top of the heap.
“It’s just like what Coach McGee has said in regards to taking care of off-field stuff,” Lindsey said. “We wanted someone who was able to handle that stuff as well as McGee while maintaining the growth that we’ve seen on the football field. And I just thought about (Kegler).”
Having grown up in the community, Kegler said that he understands the kids and where they come from.
“I’ve been around the kids in the community,” he said. “Not too long ago, I was one of our kids. I understand the struggles that they have and understand how to be there for them.
“It’s impossible to replace Coach McGee, but I can connect with them in a way that someone outside the program might have a problem with.”
That’s not to limit his level of preparedness on the field, as well. His hiring came with McGee’s endorsement, according to Lindsey, and that included more than just his personality.
“Of course, I asked Coach McGee for suggestions in regards to who could take over, and that was maybe the first name he mentioned,” Lindsey said. “I’ve watched (Kegler) over the past six years and realized how intelligent he was in regards to football, as well as dealing with parents and athletes. Observing that, I think he fits the mold.”
McGee was not immediately available to comment on the hire.
Perhaps most importantly, Kegler has the support of the players he is taking over. Sophomore defensive end Mekhi Brown said that he thought Kegler was a great person to take over the program.
“He works hard,” Brown said. “He watches film a lot and makes a real good game plan. He’s a good coach, and he knows us as players. He knows what we can do. We’re excited and ready to get started.”
Kegler said that a lot of what he will do will continue things the team has done in the past. He has picked up strategies from Davis, McGee as well as his coaches at Fort Valley State, which he attended prior to joining the staff at Carver.
Mostly, he will try to continue the involvement of the community.
“The biggest thing I’ll try to do is to continue and try to get support from the community,” he said. “We really want to stress academics, and then football will take care of itself.”
The final decision was a quick one, Lindsey acknowledged. His reasoning for that was that he wanted to stabilize the program as quickly as possible.
“I was thinking a lot about the chemistry that already existed on the football team,” he said. “I didn’t want to keep the kids in limbo for too long.”
And though Kegler has big shoes to fill, Lindsey said he’s confident the school made the perfect decision.
“He’s going to do well,” Lindsey said. “There’s no doubt in my mind.”
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571; Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.
About Joseph Kegler:
--Graduated from Carver High in 2001
--Played football at Fort Valley State
--Coached offensive line at Carver from 2007-10
--Offensive coordinator at Carver from 2011-12
--Co-Athletic Director beginning in 2011
--First head coaching job