October 4, 2022
"Changing Lives, Improving Communities"

School Spotlight: King’s Fork High School

King’s Fork High School – located in Suffolk, Virginia and built in 2004 – plays at the 4A level and is ranked the #14 team in the state (according to MaxPreps). The Bulldogs are home to current Baltimore Ravens starting safety Chuck Clark. This week, I had the great ability to talk with King’s Fork head coach Anthony Joffrion to talk about the team. I asked him how he got interested in being a coach, to how the team looks after starting 2-0, and who some of his top players are.

To start off, I had asked coached Joffrion how he got to the position he is in today. “I played football at Troy University, and towards the end of my career, I just… wanted to continue [being around] it. I ended up not getting a college GA job, so I ended up becoming a teacher, fresh out of college, at King’s Fork High School. I kind of just fell in love with it from there.”

As always with youth sports, the best coaching philosophy (in my opinion) is putting the players first. Joffrion’s philosophy is no different. “I really [put an emphasis] on that. Always put the kids first, and try to build a relationship with the kids. From there, that’s when you can really coach them and give them tough love. [It really is about] building a relationship with the players, their parents, the community, and just making it an overall great experience for the kids.”

Something everybody needs to learn is how to overcome adversity. The younger you are when you learn it, the better. Coach Joffrion makes sure that his players know how to do so. “Football is a great example of life. You go through different things throughout football, whether it’s practice or in the game when things go wrong. I think the more successful football programs have got to be able to overcome adversity, because something is going to go wrong in the game, and I think it correlates directly into life. In life, thing’s are not always going to go your way. You may not get promoted, you may not even get that job. How are you going to respond?”

Team-building is always important to any team, to make sure you function as a unit. Coach Joffrion knows this well. “Every Monday before practice, we have open forums where we talk about different things. If you’re going through something, most likely someone on the team is going or has gone through it as well. We have scenarios where we have players talk about what they deal with in life, whether it’s losing a grandparent or losing a parent. We have a lot of players who go through similar things, so we just try to address it as a team and have an open forum. I was kind of surprised at how many kids are going through the same thing, especially with the pandemic where it changed a lot in people’s lives.”

This season, the Bulldogs are 2-0 to start the season, and Coach Joffrion likes where his team is at. “Last season, we won the first regional championship in school history and got to the state semi. We ended up losing in the last couple of seconds of the game. So this year, we have been preaching to finish. This is my third season [as head coach], and I think we’re finally starting to reap the benefits of all the tough coaching and trying to build the culture. Now, it’s just coaching, and we don’t have to focus on discipline as much as in the past. But we’re doing really good this season. We haven’t been scored on yet and beat a pretty good team last week, so we just have to keep working towards our goal of getting to (and winning) the state championship on December 10th… we just got to take it one week at a time and focus on going 1-0 each week.”

Every team has it’s team leaders, but not every team has the same idea of who it should be and why. For King’s Fork, it’s having the trust of their teammates. “It comes through experience, it comes through how they handle adversity individually. All our captains are kids who have gone through some form of adversity, whether it was on the field or off the field. So we really try to highlight those kids who have done right by the program, the community, and represent the school well.”

With every team in the world, something goes wrong somewhere. And with King’s Fork being all about overcoming adversity, I had to ask what the biggest challenge the team has had to overcome in recent history. “The toughest was the spring season we had – which was my first year as a head coach – during the pandemic. We kind of reduced it to where played only the schools in our city. We had a lot of kids who were ineligable, so we only had [about] 25 kids on the team. In our program now, we have over 115 kids involved with our football program. So seeing the spring season go from 25 kids to now where we’re at… it was very challenging.”

When asked about who had done well so far and who he think will continue to drive the team, Coach Joffrion mentioned a few names: Cameron Butler, Kaletri Boyd, and Antione Gray. Butler is the quarterback for the team, and has been all four years at high school. Boyd is a senior all-state offensive weapon for the Bulldogs, scoring five touchdowns in two games so far. Antione Gray is a senior all-state free safety. “These three guys we lean on heavily, and they’ve accepted the challenge.”




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