The Meridian Star
If there are two things to know about first-year East Central Community College football coach Ken Karcher, it's this ––– he's honest, and he has guts.
He proved he had the latter when he took over the job at ECCC in late January, leaving him with zero time to assemble a coaching staff much less a roster. Without panic, the cool, collected Karcher took questions with confidence — yes, he realized the challenge he'd face in recruiting, and no, he wasn't concerned with the upcoming signing deadline.
Instead of panicking, Karcher quickly took to the recruiting trail never once complaining about the slow start. Considering what he was given to work with, Karcher exceeded expectations, piecing together an impressive freshman class, including 6-3, 230-pound quarterback Jacori Taylor.
He used his experience as a Division I head coach to surround himself with a talented coaching staff and better yet plans to run East Central like he would a four-year school.
When experts picked the Warriors to finish last in the MACJC South division, he shrugged his shoulders, promising not to get caught up in the things he couldn't control. When ECCC opened its season against No. 16 Itawamba last week, Karcher wasn't nervous. Instead, he expressed excitement, finally getting to see what his team was made of. Despite falling 40-7 to the Indians in Week 1, he saw promise in his young team. He encouraged them and applauded their effort. And that's what really matters for Karcher. Make no mistake, the first-year coach is in the business of winning, but what the Warriors gain in experience this season might be just as important as what they gain in the stat books.
“Our focus is East Central,” he said of the building process. “No matter who we play this season, our focus is on East Central and building this program.”
Tonight, heading into a matchup against No. 5 East Mississippi Community College, we get to the honest side of the head coach. Instead of stirring the pot and calling out his rival opponents, Karcher commended the Lions, owning up to the fact that they are one of the state's premiere football teams. Karcher will be the first to tell you that the Warriors are a long way off from where he wants them to be. He isn't going to lie about what it will take to get there either.
Instead of promising a quick turnaround, Karcher has promised to turn the Warriors around the right way, however long that may take. He's not just going to bring in any recruit. Only young men willing to listen, grow and become a part of the process will earn the honor of wearing the black and gold. That respect will be carried over into academics as well, as Karcher has stated a zero-tolerance policy for poor performance in the classroom.
Will that philosophy translate into wins? Who knows, it might take more than a couple of seasons. Over time though, as Karcher continues to build successful young men, the Warrior brand will grow more enticing.
What Karcher is promising runs deeper than wins and losses. It's a lesson in life and an opportunity that far exceeds the football field.
No, it wont be easy, but easy really isn't Karcher's style anyway.
“We have a long way to go as a program, but we are excited about that,” Karcher said. “Our job is to try to get the best opportunity for these young men as we help them grow to be a better people for the rest of their life. It's going to be a great challenge, but I'm looking forward to it.”
Yes coach, and so are plenty of future recruits.