There were signs of a special season at Karns in August
By Steve Williams
Brad Taylor, who guided Karns High to its most successful season in school history, has been chosen The Knoxville Focus / Coaches’ All-Knox County Coach of the Year.
With the award primarily based on the regular season, Taylor received eight of the 17 votes cast by the county’s head coaches at the 13 Division I and four Division II schools.
Rob Black of Fulton and Lamar Brown of West received three votes each to tie for second in the balloting. Farragut’s Eddie Courtney got two votes and Powell’s Matt Lowe one.
“Thank you. That’s very nice,” said Taylor when notified of his selection.
“There are a whole lot of good coaches in our area and them thinking of me sure does mean a lot. Ultimately, it is a testament though to our players. We were fortunate to have some good football players playing for us this year and I’m mainly happy for those guys and the success that they have enjoyed this season. They worked very hard and put in a lot of time and effort and it’s nice to see them be rewarded and things pay off.”
Even back in August during preseason practice, Coach Taylor was optimistic about the season ahead.
“I feel like if we can keep moving in the right direction, we can be competitive and win some ball games and have a chance to compete to make the playoffs,” he said then, despite the fact Karns had been to the playoffs only four times since the TSSAA classification era started in 1969 and its last appearance had been in 2011.
Karns fans saw the Beavers defeat Oak Ridge 42-35 for the first time since 1985 en route to a 3-2 region record and second place finish behind Powell in Region 3-5A, which earned them a home playoff game for the first time ever.
Karns then held off Walker Valley 27-25 for its first ever playoff victory.
Its historic season ended the next week with a 63-48 loss at Rhea County.
Still, even that night Taylor spoke of what a great season it had been and he would remember.
“Just the whole season, we improved as a football team and gained a lot of confidence playing good football,” he said.
Prior to this year, Karns has had only six seasons with an over .500 winning percentage in the TSSAA classification era.
Taylor’s 7-5 overall record this year is the Beavers’ best since 1980.
Taylor had a seven-year of 55-28 at Bearden (2007-13) before coming to Karns in 2016. In his first five seasons at KHS, his teams went 1-9, 4-6, 3-7, 2-8 and 2-7.
“Every team you coach is a little bit different and has different dynamics,” said Brad. “This was a team that just liked practicing football … and they really tried to be good teammates. That made it a lot of fun. And that’s part of the reason why they were successful.”
Taylor said his “greatest satisfaction of the season kind of got summed up in a play at the end of the Walker Valley game when we had a ‘freeze’ called and got Walker Valley to jump off sides.
“But it was not about them jumping off sides – our players at that moment knew that we had won the game. And watching our kids, just the joy and excitement they had, it was a lot of fun. Even our kids that are cooler than others, they definitely let their guard down and enjoyed each other and that was fun to see.”
Taylor was on his way to join the celebration but unfortunately was unable to get there.
“I’m not as young as I think I am sometimes,” he said, laughing and recalling what happened. “I jumped up too with them and pulled my calf muscle a little bit. It took a few days, but by the next Tuesday it was alright.”
The pain went away, but not the special memory.