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King takes over at Sumter Central

TUSCALOOSA | Dre’Mail King left his alma mater for his first job as a head football coach, and he knows it won’t be easy.

A former Central High School athlete, King has taken over the program at Sumter Central in York. He replaces Christopher Raymond, who coached the Jaguars to a 1-9 record in one season. Sumter Central’s first football team made the Class 5A playoffs in 2011, and about a dozen players signed scholarships, but coach Andre Pickering left to coach in Georgia.

King, an All-American defensive back at Stillman College, was an offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator on Dennis Conner’s Central staff. Central made the Class 5A playoffs last season.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to be able to make that next step,” King said. “I hate I had to leave my alma mater.

“When I was at Central, I had a pretty big role there. I did a lot of the same things I’m doing now as the head coach at Sumter Central.”

King, a firm believer in strength training, has to handle more paperwork as a head coach. But he said his main priority is “teaching these young kids how to become grown men.”

“I love to be able to be in these kids’ life,” he said.

King has faced a tougher challenge in his life. After his senior season at Central, he expected to sign with Alabama. But in January of 2003, he was shot in the abdomen and spent months in rehabilitation. He walked on at Mississippi State, but came back to Tuscaloosa. Conner, then an assistant coach, offered King the opportunity to play at Stillman on scholarship.

“People are waiting to see if I am going to make it happen,” King said. “I understand that. I know what I’m capable of doing. I’m not sweating it at all.”

King was hired in July. He said that in his first meeting he greeted only 12 players, but he could have as many as 50 dressing out for the first game.

“I have not even had the opportunity to see the kids come into school because school hasn’t started yet,” he said. “Once these kids saw how I had everything organized and saw that I had a system in place and I was forcing these kids to be at their best, they started passing the word and kids just started coming out. For us to be getting this many kids right now, we must be doing something right.”

King knows that Sumter Central is known for basketball success under the direction of girls coach Eddie Jackson and boys coach Jazmin Mitchell. Jackson will coach the defensive line this season.

“The biggest challenge is going to be able to get the kids to believe that football can be the main attraction,” he said. “They have an excellent basketball coach. He actually comes out and supports the football team. He says kind words to me and to the guys. We would love to have two powerhouse programs down there at Sumter Central.”

Reach Andrew Carroll at or at 205-722-0223.