Johnson High has ended its brief search for a new football coach.
Jason Roquemore, most recently the defensive coordinator at North Cobb Christian, will be taking his first head coaching job with the Knights. Roquemore met the team Thursday morning and will hit the ground running Monday.
Roquemore, 34, is excited to finally get the chance to lead a team.
“I dropped down to my knees and I said, ‘thank you God,’” Roquemore said. “It was just a long time coming. I was so close before, and for it to be on his time and his plan, it just made it even better.
“It seems like the stars have aligned, it’s just a great opportunity he’s blessed me with.”
He is replacing former Johnson head coach Paul Friel, who resigned last month to pursue a coaching job in Maryland after leading the Knights since 2006.
Johnson athletic director Tim Rogers said that, due to Friel’s resignation late in the year, getting a new coach quickly was of utmost importance.
“Obviously, this late in the game, it was crucial,” Rogers said. “We’re very thankful for the staff left behind, who took control in the interim and kept the team together.”
Rogers added that Roquemore was also the best of around 40 possible candidates Johnson had looked at.
“It was the way he presented his vision for us, and his passion for not just football but molding our players into young men,” Rogers said. “We were looking for someone with energy and passion, and I think we found it.”
The fact that this will be Roquemore’s first head coaching gig doesn’t bother Rogers in the least.
“It was not a priority to have prior head coaching experience,” the athletic director said. “Every great coach had to get their start somewhere.
“We are grateful that he excepted our offer, and we look forward to him building the program back to where we think it can be.”
While Roquemore hasn’t yet been at the helm of a team, he’s been in football for a while. He played high school ball at Riverdale High in Clayton County, and was good enough to draw the interest of West Georgia College, where he played for a year before finding out, ‘I wasn’t very good.’
With his playing days behind him, after graduation he worked as an assistant coach at Carrollton High for two years before moving to Kennessaw Mountain High, where he was the defensive coordinator. He moved to North Cobb Christian for the 2011 season. He said that his travels as an assistant coach have given him the opportunity to work under a number of great coaches, and great men.
Now he’s looking to move up to the area as soon as he can as he looks to use his knowledge to help turn around the Johnson program. He said he's concerned with far more than just wins as he listed a few of his goals as a coach.
“Teaching our student athletes how to win every day, living with importance, paying attention to the details, raising young men,” he said. “The expectation is we want to get better every day. I said to the team, ‘it’s going to be our direction, not our intention. We’ve got to get better every day in every aspect of our lives.’
“I’m just looking forward to it. It’s going to be fun to watch our kids get this thing turned around.”
The Knights, who will rise to Class AAAA for the next two years as per the Georgia High School Association’s reclassification, finished 0-10 last season and will play a non-region schedule in football for the next year.
The move will save the Knights from an eight-game region slate and will allow Johnson to play a high number of area schools, including the season opener against West Hall in the annual Battle of Oakwood on Aug. 24 at Johnson.
The Knights will also play fellow Hall County schools North Hall and Chestatee, the latter of which also plays in Region 8-AAAA.
The Knights have struggled recently, but have had periods of success, including three consecutive winning season under former coach Blair Armstrong from 2002-2004.