COVINGTON, Ga. — Since joining the Newton Rams football staff in 2012, Josh Skelton’s main role has been to groom the young student-athletes to play at a high level. He will no longer be that guy anymore.
Instead, Skelton will be the program’s 18th new head coach trying to strategize ways to maximize those same players on Friday — and sometimes Thursday and Saturday — nights.
Skelton’s promotion from defensive coordinator to head coach was revealed Friday during an 8:30 a.m. team meeting inside Newton High’s auditorium.
Skelton credited his former head coaches — Cortez Allen, Terrance Banks and Camiel Grant Jr. — as individuals who have helped prepare him for this opportunity.
“It’s like passing the torch,” Skelton said. “And it’s time for me to take it to another level. I’m excited to be a leader in the community and to lead these guys. After 11 years, I’m ready to go.”
Newton High School principal Dr. Shannon Buff mentioned how Skelton’s desire for the job shone through the interview process.
It was his desire that separated him from the 20-plus candidates who threw their names into the hat.
“When he addressed issues within the football program, he talked about the whole school,” Buff said. “He talked about the role of athletics in making the school better. That’s huge for me, when you see yourself as not just the football coach, but you see yourself as part of the overall school, that’s really important.”
Buff relayed, too, that Skelton plans to involve Newton alumni more into the program and reinstituting a booster club for Rams football.
However, for athletic director Vincent Byams, Skelton starting showing signs of being a head coach this past football season.
“He’s always been the heart and soul of the program, but never been on the forefront of it,” Byams said. “He was given that opportunity under coach Grant to be in charge of the defense, and you began to see the other side of Skelton. He has a great vision for the program moving forward.”
Skelton first came to Newton fresh out of a college football career at Jacksonville State as a member of Nick Collins’ staff. He was then retained by Terrance Banks to be the defensive backs coach.
When Banks resigned, Skelton maintained his post after Camiel Grant, Jr. was promoted.
Under the tutelage of Banks and Grant, Skelton progressed from defensive backs coach, to recruiting coordinator. And, this past season, after Spencer Fortson became Alcovy’s head coach, Skelton took the reins of “The Blue Swarm” as Newton’s defensive coordinator.
Skelton’s work as recruiting coordinator speaks for itself, and you don’t have to dig deep to see the results.
Just look at this past Early National Signing Day on Dec. 21, 2022. Newton celebrated Justin Benton’s signing to Houston, Tristan Thompkins’ signing to Baylor, Diondre Glover’s transfer to Garder-Webb and more.
Other former players have benefitted from Skelton’s work, too, such as Tay Gowan, Nyland Green and JJ Holloman.
Skelton draws from his own experiences from his playing days at Stephenson High School and Jacksonville State.
“I took getting our kids recruited personally,” Skelton said. “And I’ll continue to do anything I can to give them an opportunity to play after high school.”
But now it’s Skelton’s turn to take charge of the entire Rams’ football program.
Newton is coming off a 6-5 2022 season where it also went 3-2 in Region 4-AAAAAAA, which placed them third in the standings only behind Grayson and Brookwood. The Rams’ finish was one game better than Parkview’s in region play.
Skelton wants to see the program take the next step moving forward.
“Everybody respects our talent and there’s no reason Newton shouldn’t win the region and be competing for championships,” Skelton said. “That’s the expectation that is here. And we’re going to be competing year in and year out for championships. There’s no better place to be than here with the high expectations.”
No 2023 football schedule has been released yet. Check covnews.com for more coverage of Newton’s hire.