In 18 seasons, Barden won 154 contests for Cartersville and brought the Hurricanes their second-ever state championship during an undefeated campaign in 1999.
Joey King enters his first year as head coach at Cartersville, replacing Barden who moved on to the top spot at Stephens County. King had been an assistant coach at Carrollton the past six seasons.
“When I decided to get into coaching high school football, Cartersville was one of the top jobs in the state,” said King. “This place has everything from community support, strong city school system and a great tradition. The foundation is already laid out and the opportunity to build on that is phenomenal.”
The Hurricanes won 11 contests last season and advanced to the second round of the Class 3A playoffs. They were led offensively by quarterback Brooks Barden who threw for 41 touchdowns in 2013. His graduation created a starting quarterback competition between junior Miller Forristall and Trevor Lawrence.
“They’ve been phenomenal in learning the offense and putting in the time in the classroom,” said King.
Cartersville does return experience at the running back position with senior Kalin Heath and junior Tiamon Pennymon. Heath had a team-high 717 yards rushing for the ‘Canes last season with six touchdowns while Pennymon finished with 561 yards on the ground and a team-high seven touchdowns.
“We’re going to have a balanced offense and play up to our strengths by featuring those two guys,” King said.
The Cartersville defense allowed only 11 points last season but graduated several key contributors.
“We’re installing a new defensive system with different language but it’s going well,” said King. “Our coaches have done a great job of teaching the kids and we have a lot of young talent on defense.”
The Hurricanes will rely on the leadership and production of two seniors — outside linebacker Trevor Carlton and safety Bryce Gober who King praised for his immediate comprehension of the defense and directing teammates.
Despite turnover on the roster, coaching staff and moving up to Class 4A, expectations are still high for Cartersville.
“We talk about a state championship every day because you have to aim high and give the kids something to work for,” said King.