ALBANY — The first text message came seconds after Corey Joyner was named Dougherty High School’s new head football coach at Monday evening’s Dougherty County School Board meeting.
He glanced at his phone while sitting in church and saw the words: “It’s official.”
“My phone just started to blow up,” Joyner said. “I had to step outside of church to answer all the calls.”
There was much excitement about the possibility of Joyner replacing Jesse Hicks, who resigned Feb. 16 to take a job at Central Macon High School, and the school board voted unanimously in favor of letting the former Dougherty star take over the program.
“This is a dream job because I am an alumni of Dougherty, and I look forward to the challenge of not only coaching football but helping my high school get back in both academics and athletics,” said Joyner, who was an assistant coach under Hicks. “But they will have to be patient. We were 3-17 the last two years. We aren’t going to start winning just cause I am the coach. It will take some time. Getting Dougherty High School back to when it needs to be starts with academics.”
Joyner, who was a star at Dougherty and played at Georgia Southern, interviewed for the job three years ago when Hicks was hired. Players, fans and members of the community were upset at the time because Joyner wasn’t hired and wanted him to get the job.
There weren’t any arguments from the crowd at Monday’s school board meeting.
“I have gotten so much support from the community, the board members, faculty and staff. I have so much support behind me, and I am overwhelmed with joy,” said Joyner, who is also a business education teacher at Dougherty High School. “I’ve had kids texting me saying they hope I get it.”
He then added with a laugh, “We aren’t going to get too much work done at school (today).”
Joyner, whose potential hiring was first reported by The Herald late Sunday evening according to multiple sources, has plenty of work to do on the gridiron, where the Trojans — winners of a 1998 state championship — have had little success in the last decade.
“It’s going to be a very big challenge,” Joyner said. “I am going to come in and focus not so much on football, but on academics. We need to get Dougherty High School back to where it needs to be before getting the football program back. I think that’s what stands out between me and the other people (who applied for the job).”
A seven-member committee interviewed 12 candidates, including two local assistant coaches and three candidates from outside of Georgia. Joyner was the last candidate to be interviewed and was a local favorite to get the position.
“(Joyner) grew up in the program when it was very successful,” Dougherty County Director of Athletics Johnny Seabrooks said. “When you play for a winning program, you learn from it. To get the Dougherty football program turned around would be tremendous. Hopefully the parents and supporters will rally and help him do that.”
And unlike an out-of-town hire, Joyner said he is here to stay.
“I am going to bring some stability to the program, as well as knowing what to do with the kids,” he said.
Joyner has been leading weight room workouts since January and has the support of his players. He also thinks he is prepared because of his eclectic coaching history as an offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, special teams coordinator and weight room coordinator.
“I have coached just about every position on both sides of the ball,” he said. “It helped going to Georgia Southern, where you have to learn both sides of the ball with the offense we ran. Coaching is like second nature for me.”