The White County Warriors football program is coming off a rough 2016 in which they went 1-9, but new head coach Tim Cokely brings a pedigree of almost 200 wins and six state championships.
After going just 1-9 last year, White County needed a new look. Insert head coach Tim Cokely, who has 185 wins to his credit and six state titles while coaching in Florida. He knows how to win. He’s not entirely new to Georgia, however. Cokely, 53, has been head coach previously at powerhouse programs GAC (2010-2011) and Colquitt County (2005-2007). This marks the third time he’s moved back to Georgia from Florida in his 22 years of head coaching.
“The only thing I know to do is play for the championship — that’s how God made me.” -Tim Cokely
“I fell in love with the kids and the people here,” says Cokely about when he came to interview.
“It’s the right time for me where I am in my career, and honestly I’m just blessed to be chosen….it’s a great football school and that motivated me to come here.”
While Cokely feels blessed to be at White County, the community feels the same about a coach with his track record of not only winning, but investing in the lives of the kids. He has coached some 40 players who went on to get a football scholarship, and some players who made it to the NFL. His winning mentality is sure to rub off on the players.
“The only thing I know to do is play for the championship — that’s how God made me,” states Cokely.
“I think if you don’t play for the championship — or try to attain the highest level — you’re cheating the [players]. This group of seniors wants to win the region championship this year!”
The Warriors are certainly a football school, as Cokely mentioned. The 1-9 season was the lowest win total since 2003, when White County posted that same mark. The true identity of this program is closer to what it attained from 2010-2014, a span that included four state playoff appearances — two second round trips — and 34 total wins. That includes the rare outlier season of 2011 (3-7, no playoffs). The Warriors won nine games in 2010 and 2013.
“We’ve got players at White County that can play at a high level,” states Cokely.
“The results will be part of the process — if we go through it the right way, results will take care of themselves.”
As is typically the case when a new head coach takes over a program, it’s essentially an all-new try out in which no player’s position is a given. All positions are open for the Warriors, which has brought out competitiveness among returning key players as well as younger guys who are hungry to claim a spot.
Cokely states that having two big running backs — Kaleb Crane and Desmond Lowery — is a commodity he hasn’t had before. He believes it will make the play-calling easy. Cokely believes this 22-man senior group has really come together and they are shooting for a region title.
“We’ve got great chemistry,” says Crane of this 2017 Warriors group.
“[Cokely] brings great leadership, and it’s been really fun with the transition and just a breath of fresh air really.”
Crane is well aware of the emotional roller coaster that is your senior year, and has goals of winning the region title and leaving something more behind as his legacy.
“I just hope to be a great leader to them, the right way,” says Crane.
“Make good grades, work hard, take coaching well, and hope I can leave that more than anything…and be great on Friday nights as well.”
To accomplish the goal of a region championship will require a significant turnaround for this program, but it appears the coaches have invested in the young men and gotten them to buy in. For those naysayers that may point to the 324-117 scoring differential from last year’s 1-9 team, Cokely doesn’t waste time looking in the rear view mirror.
“I’m not a reflective guy,” says Cokely.
“I’ve coached in 300 games; I think we needed some forward thinking — some new thinking in here.”
New thinking may be just what White County needed to get this program back on track.