By DANNY P. SMITH
Anthony King values the experience he gained from the time he spent as the head coach of the East Oktibbeha Titans.
Even though the Titans failed to have a winning record or reach the playoffs in the two seasons King was the head coach, he welcomed the chance at his first head-coaching opportunity at the school.
It turned out to be the stepping stone King needed to return home recently as the head coach at West Lowndes High School near Columbus.
King, who played at West Lowndes when it was known as Motley, was an assistant on Tyrone Shorter's staff at Noxubee County last season and knew he was taking a chance when he left East Oktibbeha.
He wasn't sure when the next head-coaching position would be available and was excited when it turned out to be with the West Lowndes Panthers.
"I really didn't think about it, but there are not many that gives up being a head coach to being an assistant coach," King said of the path he took. "You don't know if you'll get the chance to be a head coach again. At this point, it's a blessing for me that it came open and everything happened so quickly.
"I wouldn't recommend for anyone to give up being a head coach to be an assistant. It just worked out for me that one came open when it did."
King's Titans improved from a 1-9 record in 2008 to 4-7 the next year, then he left to become a defensive coach at Noxubee County.
"(Being on Shorter's staff) helped me out tremendously," King said. "It helped me become a more complete coach. When I was at East Oktibbeha, I pretty much ran the offense and when I went to Noxubee, I ran the defense. Now I can coach both ends of the ball, including special teams. In a short time, I gained a lot of experience."
Ironically, King replaces the man he played for with the retirement of Bobby Berry from the Panthers. Berry was the defensive coordinator on Felix Wicks' staff when King played.
Replacing a man he respects along with the school being 5 minutes from his home made the situation a perfect fit for King.
"It means a lot for me to go back to West Lowndes," King said. "It will be a lot easier for me all of the way around."
With the start of preseason practice less than a month away from starting (August 1), King knows he has to hit the ground running.
Since he has been a fixture in the community for quite a while, it has been easier for to accept what King brings to the table.
"It will be a new way of doing things and a different way of doing things, but the community seems to be excited," King said. "The players are expecting good things to come out of it."