T.J. Carper

Vinton County officially hired T.J. Carper (middle) as its new head football coach on Monday. He’s pictured beside Vinton County superintendent Rick Brooks and President of the Board of Education Thomas McManis.

MCARTHUR — Every coaching story has to begin at some point. And for T.J. Carper, his journey is officially starting its second and biggest chapter to date.

Carper was officially named the head football coach at Vinton County at Monday’s board meeting, taking over the post from Travis Bethel, who stepped down for personal reasons after two seasons.

“Coach Bethel had this program going in the right direction, and hopefully I’m able to take what he did and continue adding on,” Carper said. “I’m excited to get this journey started. My wife, Caitlyn, is from Vinton County and family is a very big thing for us. McArthur reminds me a lot of my hometown and I felt really comfortable which I visited from time to time, so I didn’t hesitate to jump at the chance to come here and be apart of something special.”

Although this will be Carper’s first head coaching opportunity, he’s not new to the coaching world.

He’s spent the past seven years as the running back and defensive back coach at Cabell Midland High School in Huntington, West Virginia. While he was a part of the staff, the team never missed the playoffs and made it to the state championship in the 2019 season.

“(Cabell Midland) Coach Luke Salmons runs a great program, one that’s only lost less than 20 games over the past seven years and I want to be an extension of that,” Carper said. “He had a huge hand in shaping me to be a coach and always pushed me to reach a new level every year. It’ll be a lot different going from a position coach to the guy who is now calling the shots, but it’s a challenge I’m ready for.”

Just to add a little more background on Carper, he also played college football as a defensive back at Marshall University from 2007-2011, winning two bowl games in the process.

Now with this new chapter ahead of him, he wants to bring that winning culture he’s been surrounded by to Vinton County.

“I was able to watch some film from this past season and there’s a lot of talent on the team,” Carper said. “Being that I’m a younger guy, I’m bringing a lot of energy to the program and we’re going to compete for TVC championships. I know it’s a tough league with a lot of good players, but why can’t we win?

“You have to set your goals high and go everything you can to reach them. I know these kids want to win, and we’re going to push them to want more just as we did at Cabell Midland. We want our numbers to be high and get kids excited about playing. This is a proud community that loves its Vikings, and we want to continue building a program it’s proud of.”

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