JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Bartram Trail has its new head football coach.
From Nature Coast and back to the First Coast, the Bears announced the hire of Cory Johns on Thursday morning. Johns played high school football at Interlachen and then college football at both Jacksonville University and Webber International. He has spent the last six seasons at Nature Coast Tech, building the Sharks into a perennial state playoff team.
Johns will try and keep one of the area’s most consistent public school programs humming along.
Johns replaces longtime Bartram coach Darrell Sutherland, who resigned last month after 23 seasons. He had been at the school since it opened in 2000. Sutherland won 182 games with the Bears and was arguably the most revered coach in the area among his colleagues. In two News4JAX preseason surveys that polled area coaches, Sutherland was voted as the best each time.
“Everybody knows Darrell in the coaching community and what he is and what he’s what he’s brought to this place. So that was an obvious thing. And the wins and losses are obvious, too. But just talking to people throughout the process, the people that are here, the kids that they have here, the support that they have here, I think is probably in the minority, I think in high school athletics,” Johns said. “And I think that also intrigued me and drew me to it.”
Bartram is coming off a 12-1 season and a berth in the Region 1-4S finals.
Johns took the Sharks to the state playoffs each season he was there and never had a finish worse than 6-6. Johns was 39-21 at Nature Coast. Before that, he spent four seasons at Liberty High in Kissimmee. Johns was 13-27 there before moving to a more prominent program at Nature Coast.
Johns will have a solid nucelus returning in 2023. Running back Laython Biddle and quarterback Riley Trujillo are rising seniors. Both were All-News4JAX selections last season.
“I’m going to do my best to be balanced because I think that’s what’s gonna make us a better football team. And not predictable in what it is that we’re going to do,” Johns said. “I played quarterback, I want to throw the football so if that opportunity is there, we’re also going to do that. But we’re gonna be physical and we’re gonna get after people on offense. I’m looking forward to it. It’s gonna be fun.:
The hiring of Johns fills the area’s highest-profile vacancy. Two other high-profile jobs, both in Clay County, were filled last month.
Fleming Island hired Bartram Trail assistant Chad Parker and Oakleaf hired Jackson coach Christopher Foy.