It seemed like a foregone conclusion after former head coach Joey King announced he was leaving the Cartersville High football program for a college assistant position last week.
Conor Foster is a former state champ as a player at Cartersville in 1999, the son of a former Canes multi-sport coach, and Foster has been the orchestrator of one of the top defenses in the state the last five seasons as defensive coordinator.
As a result, it came as little surprise when Foster was officially announced as the new head football coach of the Purple Hurricanes Thursday night at the Cartersville school board meeting.
"For me, I feel like this is what I’ve been called to do my entire life,” Foster said shortly after being introduced as head coach. "This is what I wanted to do. This is what I feel the Lord has been leading me to do. Even as a really small child growing up in Weinman Stadium and in that field house, and seeing my dad [Martin Foster] and [former coach Mike] Earwood and [Frank] Barden, and the relationships they had with those young men and the impact they had on their family, the impact they had on our society and specifically our city, that’s the type of legacy as a man that I wanted to have.”
CHS Principal Shelly Tierce introduced Foster as head coach to the school board Thursday. She said the interview process began early in the week and internal candidates were reviewed. Foster said he had several conversations with the school’s administration before being informed Wednesday night he would be the next head coach.
Tierce said the administration did not see a need to look outside the program for its next coach because of the confidence it had in its internal candidates.
"You always talk and hash things out and see what your options are. But when you have confidence in your coaching staff and the people you have working with your kids, we hired within because of the confidence we have,” Tierce said. “Conor has an enthusiasm about him. It’s not just about football. … I think Conor has a sense about developing young men who are future workers in the community, who go to college, who are future husbands, who are future fathers. And he understands the whole picture of athletics are not just about wins and losses, but developing people who are disciplined and who can give back to your community years down the road.”
Foster’s father, Martin, coached basketball and football in the Cartersville school system for more than 25 years and Foster is a 2001 graduate of CHS, having been a player on the 1999 Cartersville state championship team.
Foster has been the defensive coordinator for the past five seasons after following King from Carrollton High School in 2014. King recommended Foster replace him after announcing his own resignation Jan. 31 to take a position as a college assistant coach.
In the five seasons Foster has been Cartersville’s defensive coordinator, his defenses have allowed less than 10 points per game and have shut out opponents 16 times in 71 games, including the 2015 state championship game against Buford. Cartersville has regularly been among the leaders in Class 4A in least points allowed during Foster’s tenure. The Canes are 67-4 in the last five seasons with Foster as defensive coordinator, including two state championships and an average of three and half playoff wins per year.
"It’s a little bit bittersweet with losing Joey. That’s my brother and I'm just so thankful to him and the opportunity he’s afforded our family,” Foster said, adding King has been preparing him for a head coaching position. "But also, I’m excited for our football program — just humbled for this opportunity that’s been afforded to our entire coaching staff. We see it as a vote of confidence in the work that we’ve all done. I can’t wait to get back to work with those men.”
Foster said he is anxious to meet with the current coaching staff and “share this moment with them."
"I think the big thing is continue all the great work our staff has been doing the last five years,” he said. "I’m sure there’ll be some new things, some new wrinkles. But the biggest thing is to continue to embrace the standard of excellence and continue the work on the foundation that’s been laid and continue to build a championship program in all endeavors, whether it be in the classroom, on the competitive field, in our community or building these young men into great husbands and fathers. Those are the things we'll be striving for."
Foster had interviewed for other head coaching positions since coming to Cartersville, but for the Cartersville graduate, son of a longtime Cartersville coach and husband to CHS teacher Kim Foster, Conor said things could not have worked out any better.
“I’m so grateful to the people of Cartersville who have welcomed me,” he said. "My parents came down here from Michigan and this has been our home all along. I’m thankful for everyone who reached out throughout this process and humbled by the love that was shown to us."