Barnes, Ex-Red Bank QB, Gets First Head Football Job At Soddy-Daisy

Had Three stops At Georgia Schools Before Landing Trojans Position

Friday, February 1, 2013 - by Larry Fleming

Justin Barnes, former Red Bank High School quarterback, has been named head football coach at Soddy-Daisy, succeeding Kevin Orr.

Barnes comes to Soddy-Daisy after eight years as an assistant coach at three different Georgia high schools – Central Gwinnett (2005), Oconee County (2006-11) and Dacula (2012). Barnes was the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach at Oconee, located in Watkinsville, Ga.

At Dacula, Barnes served as wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator. Under head coach Jared Zito, the Falcons went 1-9 this past season. In his one year at Central Gwinnett, the Black Knights went 9-4 and lost to eventual Class 5A state champion Lowndes, 38-0, in the playoff quarterfinals.

Now, Barnes, 32, has returned to familiar turf in Hamilton County.

“Obviously, I know a lot about Soddy-Daisy,” Barnes said in a telephone interview Friday morning. “My parents are still up there, five minutes from the school. Jared Hensley, their baseball coach, and I have been friends for ages. Jimmy Higgins, the wrestling coach, I’ve known him forever.

“And, all through the interview process I was blown away by the pure passion for the school and visions of (principal) John Maynard and (athletic director) Steve Henry about where they want to take the football program. They fired me up and I’m honored to be the Soddy-Daisy football coach and very excited about the opportunity before me.”

Barnes grew up in Falling Water and attended Soddy-Daisy Middle School before enrolling at Red Bank High School so he could play football with cousins Pat and Ryan McGinnis from 1995-99.

He was a three-year starter for the Lions and was selected the Region 8-5A Quarterback of the Year in 1997. Barnes also was a two-time All-City pick.

Barnes signed a football scholarship with UT-Chattanooga and was with the Mocs from 1999-02. He served as a student assistant, helping coach tight ends, from April 2003 to December 2004

A two-time letter-winner at UTC, Barnes started “five or six” games his sophomore and junior seasons, once tying school and Southern Conference records with six touchdown passes in a game.

He quickly rose to the top of Soddy-Daisy’s shopping list.

“We had more applicants than I could count,” Maynard said, “but we narrowed them down to 15 serious candidates. We whittled that list to two and then got our coach. We’ve known this for a while, but had to get through a bunch of (Human Resource) stuff. The process takes time to get through and choose who you hope is the right person, and I think we have that person.”

The two finalists – Soddy-Daisy graduate Tom Elliott was the second – were brought in for a second round of interviews before a final decision was made.

“Through the whole thing it kept coming to the top that Justin had great character,” Maynard said. “The high school coach he worked for and that school’s athletic director both felt like Justin was ready to become a head coach. His organizational skills came through real strong, and that was impressive. And, he had a real willingness to come to Soddy-Daisy and take over this program.

“He worked hard to get the job.”

Barnes considers himself an offense-minded coach, but was exposed to defense while at Oconee County High. While there, Barnes, and the other assistants, had primary and secondary coaching duties. So, he coached quarterbacks and helped with defensive backs.

“But, I’m definitely an offensive guy,” said Barnes, who hopes to take over his duties at Soddy-Daisy by Feb. 11 and start preparing for spring practice in May. “That’s my mind-set.”

Barnes will use the spread offense at Soddy-Daisy, using a base package that he’s used for several years with the ability to tweak the scheme toward the Soddy-Daisy players’ skill-set.

“I don’t want to get totally out of our scheme, but there are ways to adapt to the players we have, and I haven’t seen much film and don’t know exactly what we do have,” he said. “If we have a great quarterback and good receivers, we’ll throw it a lot more. If we have a young quarterback and don’t want to put a lot of pressure on him, we may be more like Auburn and Clemson and use more of a power game.”

Barnes is well aware of the Trojans’ struggles the past few years, but neither Maynard nor Henry were concentrating on the past during the selection process, and that turned out to be another selling point for the program.

“I know they’ve been through some tough times,” Barnes said. “But all during the process, those guys up there didn’t focus on what’s wrong. They focused on how I would like to run things, how we will work together and we’re all looking ahead.

“I want our program to be No. 1 in everything in not just the county but state. I want Soddy-Daisy to be the envy of the county with our success. That’s what we’ll all work to do.”

Orr resigned in November after four years directing the Trojans’ football program. He had an 18-24 record with one winning season (7-5) in 2010. Soddy-Daisy reached the state playoffs that season for the first time in two years.

Under Orr, the Trojans went 5-5 in 2009, 4-6 in 2011 and 1-8 in 2012 while competing in District 5-AAA. The Trojans lost their final six games last season and finished 1-5 in last place in district play.

(E-mail Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com)



Larry Fleming: The Point Of Going To Oak Hill Is Basketball

Steve Smith, a 60-year-old basketball coaching legend, didn’t make Oak Hill Academy a household name by himself. Steve Isner and his son, Chuck, were responsible for laying the groundwork in the 1970s. Smith, in his 31-year stint coaching the Warriors, who competed this weekend in the inaugural McCallie Classic and packed the house both nights, has built on the Isner’s ... (click for more)

Lee Softball Splits, Baseball Wins Two

The Lee softball had to settled for a split on day one of the Gulf Shores Invitational. After rolling past Miles College, 11-3 earlier in the day the Lady Flames came up a run short in a 5-4 defeat at the hands of Midwestern State University in the nightcap. Lee will get back to work at 1:15 p.m. tomorrow against Montevallo. The Lady Flames beat the Eagles on Thursday 18-6 ... (click for more)

Arrests Made In Connection With Fire At Brainerd Trophy Shop

Fire investigators Captain Moore and Captain McElvain made two arrests Friday night in connection with the fire at the Brainerd Trophy Shop that occurred  on Friday  morning. Gene Wegg and Pamela McNabb, have been arrested and charged with arson by the Chattanooga Fire Department. The two allegedly broke into the Brainerd Trophy Shop and set fire to the building, ... (click for more)

TBI Case Leads To Charges For Woman In Death Of Whitwell Boy

A joint investigation by special agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Whitwell Police Department has resulted in charges for a Whitwell woman in connection to the death of her boyfriend’s son. At the request of 12 th  District Attorney J. Michael Taylor, TBI apecial agents began investigating the death of six-year-old Lucas Michael Dillon on March 29, ... (click for more)

The City I Used To Know

“They Dead”, the innocent young voice said as tears began streaming from my eyes.  Foolishness that didn’t involve him snatched away his childhood in the blink of an eye.  Why?  Why has my city become known more for gangs and violence than the River Front, Lookout Mountain, and a fun little theme park?  What happened to hot summers at Lake Winnie, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Stick Of Dynamite

You may have seen the Tennessee Legislature jumped on the bandwagon to send “an atomic bomb” to Washington this week. The “bomb” makes Tennessee the fifth state to adopt a Convention of the States Project that will hopefully limit the power and the jurisdiction of federal government. The official wording is “to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power ... (click for more)