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New Clinton coach John Carr: 'High school football is where I cut my teeth'

In taking the Clinton job, the former UL-Monroe assistant is returning to his roots

Newly minted Clinton Arrows football coach John Carr grew up in a football household, so he knows what dedication to the sport looks like up close.

Carr, the son of 10-year NFL veteran Roger Carr, moved with his family from Baltimore to Seattle to San Diego while his dad chased his pro football dreams.

That upbringing jump-started a life-long passion for the sport that has ultimately brought him to Clinton at a turning point for the traditionally strong program.

“That’s just how I grew up,” Carr explained. “Football has always been a big, important part of my life. My dad had a lot to do with that. Even to this day, when my wideouts didn’t have a great game (at UL-Monroe), it’s going to be the first thing my dad will say when I walk through the door.”

The 51-year-old Carr — set to be introduced to fans and media with a press conference next week — was approved by the Clinton Public School District’s Board of Trustees at a March 7 meeting.

Former Louisiana-Monroe wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator John Carr accepted the head coaching job at Clinton High School in Clinton, Miss. on Thursday, March 7, 2024.

Former Louisiana-Monroe wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator John Carr accepted the head coaching job at Clinton High School in Clinton, Miss. on Thursday, March 7, 2024.

He comes to Clinton after 11 years as an assistant at the collegiate level, including two stints at UL-Monroe and stops at Jones Junior College, Southern Miss and Troy University.

It’s no secret the last couple of years has been particularly stressful for college coaching staffs, thanks in most part to the introduction of NIL and the transfer portal.

Carr said he’d be lying if he said that aspect of the job didn’t play a role in his decision to return to high school coaching. He got his start as a wide receiver coach at Ouachita Parish High School in Monroe, La. in 1996, and later coached the Lions to a 72-28 record over eight seasons as the head coach from 2005 to 2012.

“I got into this business to help young people,” Carr said. “I cut my teeth in high school football, and I always wanted to be one of those coaches that touches kids’ lives, probably because of the coaches I had that had a big impact on my life.

“The pendulum has just swung a little bit, and college football hasn’t been much fun the past couple of years. With NIL and the portal, you spend a lot of time recruiting your own players, and we still had to replace 38 to 40 players in each of the last two years. You’re expected to hold them accountable for academics, and you can’t really establish that player-coach relationship the way you really want to. For me, it just felt like I wasn’t having the impact I was able to have when I started.”

Clinton Athletic Director Judd Boswell, who resigned as the football coach in the off-season, said he’s dedicated to making sure Carr gets the opportunity to build those relationships with Clinton’s next generation of football players.

“John’s a good coach, but also a great person,” Boswell said. “We know he’ll do a great job with our guys, and we’re going to support him 100 percent.”

Carr certainly comes to the program at an interesting time. From 2011 to 2022, Boswell led the Arrows to an 81-52 record — including a 49-28 clip in region games —and won the 2016 MHSAA 6A State Championship.

But Clinton was dogged by a brutal schedule and plagued with injuries in 2023, and struggled to a 1-9 record with a lone 28-21 win over Terry.

The Arrows lost key players, but also faced a 10-game schedule that included nine teams that made the playoffs and four that played in state semifinals.

The new Clinton coach may have better luck with the injuries, but the four other powerhouse programs in Region 2-7A aren’t going anywhere. Starkville is coming off back-to-back state championship berths, Madison Central played for the north state title last year, Tupelo hasn’t fallen out of the SB Live Power 10 at any point in the last two years and Germantown is on the rise, benefitting from Gluckstadt’s growth.

Carr can’t control any of that, but said he’s more eager to get started than focusing on what happened last year.

“Judd’s filled me in on that,” Carr said. “I’ve watched a little film. We’re not going to worry about the past. I’m looking forward to getting to know this staff and really engulfing myself into this community. We’ll have to navigate some challenges ahead, but I’m not dreading any of that. I’m just as eager and excited now as any job I’ve ever had.”