A 2002 graduate of Manual High School and longtime assistant coach, Donnie Stoner is well aware of the hurdles facing a football program that last won a state championship in 1966.
“My expectations and visions are to rewrite the narrative,” Stoner said. “We don’t want the conversation to be about Manual beating the teams he’s supposed to beat and losing to the teams he’s supposed to lose to. We want to be there with the St. Xs and Males.
Stoner will get his chance, as he was named the Crimsons’ new head coach on Wednesday.
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Stoner, 38, has 17 years of coaching experience in Louisville, as an assistant at Evangel Christian (2005-07), Fern Creek (2009-15) and Manual (2008, 2016-21). He served as the Crimsons’ defensive coordinator for the past two seasons, leading a unit that allowed 10.2 points per game in 2020 and 14.9 points per game in 2021.
“Coach Stoner brings incredible passion and drive for student success, on and off the field of play,” said Manual athletic director David Zuberer. “Under his exciting football brand, we plan to continue to be one of Kentucky’s top football programs.”
After graduating from Manual, Stoner played as a defensive back at Joliet (Ill.) Junior College for two seasons before graduating from the University of Louisville and the University of Campbellsville.
Stoner said he passed up opportunities at other schools because he wanted to stay at Manual.
“I wanted to bring that energy home and do the work,” he said. “I’m ready to roll.”
Stoner replaces Scott Carmony, who announced his retirement in December. Carmony went 38-25 for six seasons with the Crimsons. His 2021 team finished 8-4 after a second-round playoff loss to longtime foe St. Xavier.
Stoner said he wants to continue Carmony’s tradition of strong defenses but hopes to open up the offense. Manuel needs to find replacements for several of his best playmakers from last season, like quarterback Darien Wilson, running backs Ja’Waun Northington and Ramont Townsend and receivers Curtis Rearden and Gilbert Robbins are all seniors.
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“We want to be more explosive on offense,” Stoner said. “We want to be faster and upbeat, something that will be exciting for the players and the people who come to support us. … We’ll definitely be looking for guys to step in and fill some big shoes that have been left behind in the offense and the running game.
Stoner said he hasn’t named any offensive or defensive coordinators, but hopes to add his twin, Ronnie, to the team. Ronnie Stoner is the running backs coach at Fern Creek.
“We made a pact that the first of us to get a head coaching job, we would build it together,” Donnie Stoner said. “But I don’t know if I can get him away from Fern Creek.”
Jason Frakes: 502-582-4046; [email protected]; Twitter: @kyhighs.