KF’s Jones moves to Ocean Lakes

Published 9:38 pm Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Joe Jones is hanging up his hat as the King's Fork High School football coach and will don an Ocean Lakes High School cap as he takes over guidance of its prestigious football program in Virginia Beach. (Sam Mizelle photo)

Joe Jones is hanging up his hat as the King’s Fork High School football coach and will don an Ocean Lakes High School cap as he takes over guidance of its prestigious football program in Virginia Beach. (Sam Mizelle photo)

King’s Fork High School football coach Joe Jones and his wife had always talked about moving somewhere closer to the beach. The schedule for that move just accelerated.

Jones was named on Monday as the new football coach of Ocean Lakes High School, a Group 6A school in Virginia Beach with a football team that has been nationally-ranked and that won the 6A state championship in 2014.

“The football part of it, the football tradition they’ve had over there, that was the initial interest,” Jones said on what motivated his decision. “They’ve done very well there.”

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He said he has considered Ocean Lakes, Oscar Smith High School and Lake Taylor High School to be “the big three” as far as the top football teams in the area.

“Even though the football tradition was the initial reason for my interest, it quickly grew once I researched more the type of school it was and everything,” Jones said, praising the strong academic reputation of Ocean Lakes, where he will teach physical education.

The football head coaching position at Ocean Lakes became vacant on Jan. 6 when Chris Scott announced he was leaving to become the coach at Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School after a successful eight-year run with the Dolphins.

“I sent in a letter of interest to the (Ocean Lakes) athletic director and decided after a few days I was going to apply for it,” Jones said.

He said he and his wife talked about the move to Ocean Lakes for a long time before it was settled.

“I prayed about it a lot, and I just believe that’s where the Lord is guiding me right now, and I’m really excited about going,” Jones said.

He noted that Monday “was a very bittersweet day for me.” He went to Ocean Lakes and “was excited to be over there and meeting the team.”

But then he headed back to King’s Fork, hoping to break the news himself to the Bulldog players.

“Unfortunately, social media beat me to it,” he said. “I talked to them once I got back to school, met with most of them.”

He expressed his gratitude to Suffolk Public Schools, King’s Fork principals Dr. Suzanne Rice, Dr. Stenette Byrd and Dr. Ronald Leigh, and to his assistant coaches, past and present, who aided him during his time as the Bulldogs’ coach.

“I feel like the program is in good shape here,” he said. “I’m very grateful to King’s Fork and especially to the players, the players and the parents that have supported me over the years.”

Jones, 53, coached the Bulldogs for eight years, producing a record of 44-45. They struggled in the first four years of his tenure, going 14-26, but in the last four, they went 32-17, including postseason appearances in each of those four years.

He led the Bulldogs to a variety of unprecedented achievements in school history. They made the playoffs for the first time in 2012, won their first playoff game and had more than seven wins in 2013 and earned their first home playoff game in 2014.

His departure as football coach is effective immediately, but he will continue to teach at King’s Fork through the end of the school year.

King’s Fork activities director Randy Jessee described Jones as a very close friend.

“I’m very happy for Joe,” Jessee said, understanding that he had an opportunity to go to a program to which he aspired. “Ocean Lakes is a very good program also.”

“When we hired Joe, I was on that panel, and I was very pleased to be able to get him,” Jessee said, having known him from coaching against him through the years. “He is one of the most outstanding coaches that I have been around.”

As far as KF’s program is concerned, “it’s been very competitive here over the last few years,” Jessee said. “We feel like we have the student-athletes to continue that process, and we feel like that we will have a tremendous amount of interest as far as candidates for the position.”

Jessee is out of state due to a death in the family, but he has had preliminary conversations with Leigh, and the search for a new coach will begin after he returns.