Joe Chirico has new challenge ahead.
That challenge is being the new head football coach at George Rogers Clark High School in Winchester, Ky., just outside of Lexington.
Chirico, a 1989 Logan High School graduate and former LHS and Marshall University player, had coached at Paintsville High School in Paintsville, Ky., for many years, most recently leading the Tigers to the 2020 Class A state championship, the first ever for the school in football.
“Memories that last forever,” Chirico said in a Tweet. “The past eight years as the head coach along with the 24 years prior to that coaching at Paintsville High School have allowed me to make memories that will last forever. Paintsville will always be a home to my family and I. To my former players, assistant coaches, and everyone in between, I thank you for establishing a #WeNotMe program and will continue on. With that being said, I am thankful and honored to be introduced as the new head football coach at George Rogers Clark High School. To my new players, the time is now. Let’s go to work!”
George Rogers Clark is a large school with an enrollment of 1,525 students.
The Cardinals have a strong athletic tradition, having won state championships in several sports, including a Class AAAA state title in football in 1991.
The school dates back to 1963 with the consolidation of Clark County and Winchester high schools.
The George Rogers Clark football team produced Yeremiah Bell, a former NFL defensive back for the Miami Dolphins (2003-11), New York Jets (2012) and the Arizona Cardinals (2013). He played in the 2009 Pro Bowl and recorded 726 tackles and 13 sacks in his 11-year pro career.
Chirico definitely leaves behind his legacy at Paintsville.
Last year was Paintsville’s 100th year of football and it ended up being golden as the Tigers crushed Kentucky Country Day, 38-7, at the University of Kentucky’s Kroger Field in Lexington to win the Class A state championship.
It was Paintsville’s first ever state championship in football and the Tigers became the first Class A school in the Bluegrass State to win state championships in football, boys’ basketball and baseball.
Chirico, a former Paintsville assistant coach, took over as head coach in 2013 and sported an 86-20 record in eight seasons with the PHS headsets on.
Paintsville made it to the playoffs in all eight of those seasons and also has four trips to the state semifinals and two to the state championship game. The Tigers were Class A state runner-ups in 2019 after a 43-0 loss to eastern Kentucky mountain rival Pikeville.
Prior to last season, Paintsville also had two other Class A state runner-up finishes, in 1978 and 1985, under former legendary coach Walter Brugh.
Chirico said it was a special feeling to win it all.
“I would like to say how proud I am of these young men for doing what no one thought could be done at Paintsville,” Chirico said in an earlier Tweet. “To all my assistant coaches, you guys make my job easy with all your hard work and dedication. Thanks for the memories that will last a lifetime.”
The Tigers closed out the 2020 season with a 10-2 record.
After graduating from Logan, Chirico went to play football at Marshall University in the early 1990s and was a top member of the Herd’s secondary.
He began his coaching days at the old Logan East Junior High School, then eventually moved up the ranks.
Chirico played football at Logan for Coach Wayne Bennett and also for Vic Herbert on the varsity basketball team.
In his sophomore year, he played tight end and a starter on the defensive side of the ball at cornerback. His junior year he played tight end and safety and then in his senior season switched to quarterback and strong safety.
He play football at Marshall University from 1989-93 and was a member of the Thundering Herd’s 1992 Division I-AA National Championship team.