CRESTLINE -- Crestline High School hired Jonathan King as the Bulldogs' new football coach on Wednesday night, according to an announcement by Athletics Director Matt Wade.
The 31-year-old King is a 2006 Clear Fork graduate and seven-year football assistant at Madison. With the Rams he served as offensive line coach, linebackers coach and head freshman coach. King graduated from Mount Vernon Nazarene in 2010 and began teaching various art classes at Madison in 2013.
Football has long been a part of his life plan, from his time as a player at Clear Fork through his first head coaching opportunity.
"Throughout my conversations with Mr. (Jami) Masi and Mr. Wade, I became increasingly convinced this was the right fit for me," King said. "I hope to continue building on the recent work of Coach (Kevin) Sipes and the legacy of Crestline football established by the likes of Coach (Jon) DiPietro, Coach (Merle) Hutson and Jack Harbaugh."
King will leave Madison to join the Pioneer Career and Technology Center as a satellite instructor at Crestline.
"This unique opportunity allows me to be in the building at Crestline, which I believe will be an invaluable asset in building the football program," King said. "I am looking forward to getting in the school and building relationships with our players."
The Bulldogs are coming off three competitive seasons under Sipes, 4-6, 5-5 and 4-6. That's no small task at Crestline, a Division VII school where limited numbers have been a glaring concern for years. In fact, the junior high program has taken on 8-man football to combat the problem.
"That's been the No. 1 talking point in every conversation about the program," King said. "There are some good-looking athletes, some good-looking football players at Crestline and we need to be able to recruit the school.
"I want the kids to know, if you're an athlete at Crestline in baseball or basketball or track or whatever, we'll support you, but come and play football, too."
Wade said King proved to be the right candidate for the position.
"We told all the players back in November that we were committed to finding the best leader to continue progressing the football program into the future," Wade said. "Coach King stood out during the interview process as the absolute best fit to lead the Crestline football program for years to come.
"It is incredibly exciting that we will have our head football coach in the building during the school day, with the opportunity to develop and grow relationships with our student-athletes."
Interestingly, despite openings at Lexington and Shelby, the Crestline job appealed most to King.
"This is the one that piqued my interest," King said. "At a small-school program, the kind of influence you can have, it's a selling point for me."
King said growing numbers and building a staff are the first two items on his to-do list. He said the type of assistants he assembles, and their respective skill sets, will determine how he constructs the structure and responsibilities for his staff.
"It's going to take hard work but we are going to go about growing the program the right way, developing not only successful football players but successful young men," King said. "With the support of parents and the Crestline community, and commitment by our student-athletes, I am confident we can build Crestline into a winning program, year in and year out."