Story by Stephen Wise, Photo provided by Goflashwin
Repetition: repeating the same events over and over. For some, it’s boring, even maddening. As for football Coach Knotts, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Fresh off his tenth state title in his career, he describes winning championships like an addiction, something he can never get tired of no matter how many times he wins.
“I was 0-3 and people were saying in Charlotte that I couldn’t win the big one,” Knotts said, “and we won my first one in 1995, it was such a remarkable feeling that I wanted another one, it was like an addict and I just gotta get another one.”
Winning is certainly a factor in why Knotts coaches, but it isn’t the main reason he got involved with coaching.
“People say a lot of other things about it but just the part of being around kids all the time,” Knotts said, “it helps to keep you young and gives you a young perspective and watching them grow up from 9th grade to 12th grade is really rewarding.”
Sophomore Ty Olenchuk, the starting quarterback last season, feels the benefits of being coached by Knotts in both his athletic and personal life.
“He has turned me into a better person, not just a player, he puts a lot of responsibility on all of us, and that’s helped me out on the field and just where I am in life,” Ty said. “He’s not just a coach, he’s with you everywhere like a life tutor.”
After a historical run at Independence High School in Charlotte, including a 109-game win streak, Knotts moved on from the school in 2010. His choice of school after his departure was between Valdosta High School in Georgia, a “crazy high school football area,” and Dutch Fork. Ultimately, he chose the latter. His reason: the perfect combination of compensation and situation.
“I was happy, I never thought I’d be making this kind of money. I just fell in love with Greg Morton, who was principal, and the Superintendent,” Knotts said, “Because of the ladies at the front office, this group of people, I just felt at home when I came here. This had a chance to be special, I knew this was the right place for me.”
Knott’s tenure at Dutch Fork has been nothing short of successful, with five trips to the state championship game, yielding three state championships. His players respect and appreciate his ability as a coach and leader.
“To me personally he is probably the smartest coach I will ever be around at any level. He is the smartest high school coach in the nation and one of the best coaches of all time,” senior Christian Johnson said, “His success is ridiculous because he has done it at so many different places and to take whatever situation he is in and push them to greatness is nothing short of remarkable.”
Success has followed Knotts wherever he’s gone in his career, whether it has been at West Charlotte, Independence, or Dutch Fork. He has established a winning formula at each school, leading him to championship titles at each school.
“I think I can do it anywhere with the right people, you gotta have the defensive coordinator, an offensive line coach, strength coordinator,” Knotts said, “I said this how we are gonna do it and the kids bought in right off the bat. The first year here we won region and I knew that a state championship caliber team would be coming.”
Knotts’ fellow coaches see the benefits of having him as the coach, noting that his dedication and knowledge helps to guide his team to success.
“Because of his knowledge of the game, and the way he works; he takes his job seriously and he works at what he does,” Coach Anthony Smith said, “He loves to win, he has a system and the system works.”
Starting his post-college career as a truck driver, taking a position at Duke as a graduate assistant, to finally landing his first high school coaching job the following year; the road for Knotts hasn’t always been a smooth one, but thanks to his intense drive, desire for perfection, and insatiable appetite for winning, he is the proud owner of ten state titles.
“I give it my best,” Knotts said, “simple enough, I just want people to know I bust my tail and I want to be the best at what I do.”