PERRY — Kevin Kinsler knew at a young age that he wanted to be involved with sports.
As he got older, Kinsler’s plans materialized into becoming a football coach, and he wanted to do it at his alma mater Northside.
But Kinsler never thought he would be named the head football coach at Northside.
“I guess I never thought that far in advance back then,” said Kinsler, who was approved Tuesday by the Houston County Board of Education to take over for the retiring Conrad Nix as the school’s head coach and athletics director. “Coming back to Northside and being a part of the program was something I had in mind. But I’m really humbled by (being named the head coach).
“The program is a lot bigger than who is in charge of it. It’s about the kids, the community, the teachers and everyone who supports it.”
The former Northside quarterback takes over for his mentor and his own high school coach in Nix, who announced Jan. 5 that he would stepped down following the school year.
Nix won 300 games in his career, with 241 of those coming with the Eagles in two separate stints from 1973-1980 and 1994-2009.
Kinsler has been alongside Nix for 200 of those wins as a player and later as an assistant coach and defensive coordinator.
“He is a natural fit for the job,” Nix said. “I have the utmost respect for him. He’s earned the chance. He loves Northside as much as I do, and I’m happy for both Coach Kinsler and Northside High School.”
Kinsler, who has been an assistant at Northside for 22 years, has received a great deal of credit for molding the Eagles’ defense into one of the best in the state during the past 15 years. His defenses have allowed an average of fewer than 10 points per game nine times since 1998 and have allowed more than 15 points per game only once in that span.
Kinsler’s reputation as a good defensive mind has stretched across the state, and other schools have inquired about his availability in years past.
“There were some opportunities, but after a lot of prayer, I just never felt like that’s what God wanted me to do,” Kinsler said.
That dedication to Northside, which can be found across the coaching staff, paid off with a pair of state championships beginning in 2006. Kinsler made the defensive calls during both of the Eagles’ championship runs in 2006 and 2007. During that 30-game span, in which the Eagles were undefeated, Kinsler’s defense allowed an average of 7.3 points per game. Only three times in 30 games did the opposition score more than 20 points against Northside.
“I think you can see his understanding of the game,” Nix said. “We do a really good job of preparing during the week. But he is great at making in-game adjustments and does a lot of tweaking. He does a great job of communicating during the game.”
Kinsler said he hasn’t had time to time about how much input he’ll have on the offense — Nix was the play-caller and offensive coordinator — nor did he know what changes (if any) the Eagles would make.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said.
Northside will be expected by many to be a contender for a state championship this season. The Eagles will drop down a classification to GHSA Class AAAA, and they have all of their key skill position players returning along with several key defensive players.
“We’re going to work, and we’re going to win,” Kinsler said. “Because that’s what we’ve always done.”