GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — Kole Carter was unanimously approved to be the next head varsity football coach at Gallia Academy High School on Thursday night at the regularly-scheduled Gallipolis City School District Board of Education meeting held inside Gallia Academy Middle School.
Carter, a 2016 graduate of GAHS and a 2020 graduate of Capital University, has served as a varsity assistant on the Blue Devils’ gridiron staff the past two seasons and is also currently the head girls basketball coach at his alma mater.
Carter — a 3-sport standout in football, basketball and baseball during his prep days in the Blue and White — was a Division IV all-state linebacker his senior season and a 2-time All-Southeastern Ohio Athletic League performer on the gridiron. Carter was also an all-league performer in both baseball and basketball while at GAHS.
After initially going to Morehead State for football, Carter transferred to Capital and was a 2-time All-Ohio Athletic Conference selection at linebacker. He was also named the Defensive Player of the Year for the Crusaders by the CU football program his senior campaign.
Carter — who currently serves as the Alternative School Director at GAHS — also appeared in 11 games over three seasons with the Capital baseball team from 2017-2019.
The son of Larry and Kelly Carter — with Larry also serving as a head football coach at River Valley during the Raiders’ SEOAL days around the turn of the millennium — Kole is excited about the opportunity that is being presented to him, albeit at 24 years of age.
“Honestly, it’s very surreal and I am humbled … but it feels like everything has come full circle too. I am very grateful to our administration, my family and the coaches around me that have taught me the lessons that I have learned in getting to this point,” Carter said. “Moving forward, I know I am young … but I am very enthusiastic about this program and these kids. I want to be a coach that is there for the kids around the clock, and I want to provide those kids with the best possible experience that they can have as Blue Devils.
“Gallia Academy is a destination job and it’s been my dream job since I was playing football as a kid. I’m dedicating all of myself to getting this program back to where it needs to be numbers-wise so that we can continue to compete for league titles and deep playoff runs year-in and year-out.”
The Blue Devils have struggled with numbers in each of the last two seasons during the coronavirus pandemic, fielding respective varsity teams with 34 and 27 players.
In a phone interview Friday, GAHS Athletic Director Adam Clark spoke about Carter’s hiring and the program moving forward.
“We are very excited to have a 2016 Gallia Academy graduate who has had success at both the high school and collegiate levels of football,” Clark said. “Kole is very passionate about being here at Gallia Academy and wants to bring some youth and excitement to Blue Devil football.”
Carter takes over for Alex Penrod, who was non-renewed after five seasons and four consecutive playoff berths as head coach of the Blue Devils.
Penrod amassed a 33-15 overall mark and went 24-7 in Ohio Valley Conference contests over that 5-year span, including an unbeaten league championship during the 2018 campaign.
Penrod’s four playoff teams at GAHS were outscored 153-100 overall and went 1-4 in those five contests, but he is also the only football coach in Gallia Academy history to reach the playoffs in four consecutive seasons.
GAHS — with 14 playoff appearances all-time — made a program-best run under Brent Saunders (1999-2001) and Matt Bokovotz (2002-03) over a 5-year span around the turn of the century.
Penrod was named the 2018 Ohio Prep Sports Writers’ Coach of the Year in Division IV, and he also shared the same honors in 2015 with two other coaches in Division V through the Ohio Associated Press during his championship season and playoff run with the Alexander Spartans.
Carter will be one of three brand new football coaches in Gallia County for the upcoming 2022 campaign. Both River Valley and South Gallia have yet to officially announce their respective replacements for former head coaches Jason Peck and Vance Fellure.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.