When Karrington King decided to transfer from Harding University High to Charlotte Catholic in 2011, he was anticipating playing in big games such as the Cook Cup, the Cougars’ annual battle with rival Charlotte Country Day.
Now that it’s here – the teams face off on Friday, Aug. 31, at Charlotte Catholic – King finds himself one of the leaders on a stingy defense that has surrendered just seven total points in its first two games. King is ready to introduce himself to the rivalry, which this season will receive even more attention because it kicks off the inaugural Patriotism Bowl to support military personnel and local nonprofits.
The game is expected to draw approximately 5,000 spectators, which is the type of setting King longed for when he decided to leave Harding, which has won a total of 13 games over the past five years. Catholic, meanwhile, won 13 games during the 2011 season alone.
Although he was enrolled at Charlotte Catholic last year, King had to sit out the season because of transfer rules. Instead, he played for the AFC Rangers, a team consisting of home-schooled athletes and students who weren’t playing for their own schools for various reasons.
King had a good year for the Rangers, recording 34 tackles, seven sacks, three fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and an interception he returned for a touchdown.
But he was missing something.
“(Playing for the Rangers) was really hard,” said King, a 6-foot, 200-pound defensive end who said one of his main goals is landing a college scholarship.
“I think I had a fantastic year, but I was jealous seeing (the Cougars) on TV every single week. Every time they did something great, you knew about it, and I love that and couldn’t wait to be a part of it.”
King’s much-anticipated Cougars debut got off to a bit of a slow start, as he played sparingly in the Week 1 win over South Mecklenburg because he was recovering from an injury.
King got his first start last week, in the Cougars’ 41-7 win over Providence, and loved being in front of the raucous Charlotte Catholic fans, even though it was a road game.
“It was surreal having all of those fans out (there),” King said. “Everybody is looking at you, and I wouldn’t call it pressure, but you don’t want to disappoint anybody because people are expecting you to do well and you want to give them your all.”
King said the Cougars staff has been helpful in getting him acclimated to his teammates. At Harding, King was expected to do well — and he did. But he said the Charlotte Catholic coaches go through more technique and show players better ways to play their positions, thus giving them better opportunities to succeed.
Now, with the added coaching, King expects to have a monster season, and Charlotte Catholic coach Jim Oddo believes King has that kind of ability.
“He’s a good athlete,” Oddo said of King. “He’s fast, he’s strong, he’s aggressive, and he’s not afraid of contact. He has a motor, and he’s going to help us a lot.”
If the Cougars, who have won the past two Cook Cups, are going to continue their success against Charlotte Country Day, they’ll have to slow down Michael Radford, the Bucs’ quarterback.
That’s where King comes in.
“I’m ready to start racking up some sacks,” King said. “And I think this would be a great time to get that going. I pride myself on getting pressure on the ball, and getting sacks is what I do best.”
A quick look at the highlight video from King’s season with the AFC Rangers, not to mention his first few games with the Cougars, seems to support his claims. And college coaches also recognize his talent for disrupting quarterbacks. So far, King said, the biggest school on his recruiting trail is Missouri, which sent coaches to see him this spring but has yet to offer him his coveted scholarship.
The Cook Cup/Patriotism Bowl game will be King’s biggest stage thus far, and he feels as though having a good performance will get him the attention he’s seeking from college coaches.
“I know that it’s a really big game,” King said. “You want to show out as good as you possibly can, and especially against Country Day. I know it’s a big rivalry and a lot of our guys don’t really like them. It’s a game we’re looking forward to, and I’m looking to make my mark.”
King’s ready for his coming-out party, and Oddo thinks he’s ready to make his mark on one of the biggest rivalries in Charlotte.
“He’s a fierce competitor,” Oddo said of King. “He wants to do good, and he’s willing to pay the price to get there.”