Tommy Johnson is coming home.
Johnson, a 2000 graduate of Frankfort High, was introduced Thursday as the new head boys basketball coach at Franklin County.
Johnson was an assistant coach at FCHS for six years before taking the same position at Lafayette High School last season.
He replaces Scott Chalk, who resigned as Franklin County’s coach last month to take the head coaching job at Dunbar.
“This really is a dream come true,” Johnson said after meeting his team Thursday. “I was in middle school the last time they won the region (1995), and I saw how the community got behind them.
“Our goal is to get back there. I know a lot of people will say we can’t do it, but when you walk in (the FCHS gym) there are two banners saying it can be done.”
Johnson faces that goal with eyes wide open.
“I’ve coached in it, I’ve played in it,” he said. “My entire basketball career has been in the 11th Region.
“Last year I coached at a school that has the most state championships in the state. What they had there and what we have here, we can do that, too.”
Johnson, 30, takes over a team that went 17-16 last season, winning the district championship game over Woodford County and advanced to the second round of the 11th Region tournament.
FCHS is playing in the Kentucky Basketball Academy state tournament this weekend in Lexington. That hasn’t given Johnson time to implement his system, but he will be on the lookout for certain characteristics from his team.
“I’ll be looking for effort, attitude, how they play and get along as a team,” he said. “I don’t have time to put in what I want to put in, but effort and attitude are just as important as the system we’re going to run.”
Nick Barton has been working with the team to get it ready for the tournament this weekend.
“Nick is my assistant coach,” Johnson said, “and I can’t say enough about what he’s done. He’s done a heck of a job so far, and I really appreciate that.”
When Johnson gets a chance to implement his system it will be an up-tempo one.
“We’ll press, get up and down,” he said. “I like to play a fast tempo style. One thing is at both places (FCHS and Lafayette) I worked with the guards.
“In the 11th Region if you don’t have a 6-8 guy to put in the middle you have to have good guards, and that’s one aspect I feel I can develop.
“We’ll get up and down, press, and you have to have good guards to be able to do that,” Johnson added. “Coach Chalk did a heck of a job developing players.”
While Johnson’s goal is to win the region, he knows just getting there can be tough.
“We have some great coaches in the 41st District,” he said. “Coach Hundley had Woodford County in the regional championship game last year. Coach (Matthew) Yates is doing a good job at Frankfort. He was my coach in high school.
“Steve Wooldridge has my utmost respect,” he added about the WHHS coach. “It’s not going to be easy to make it to the region.”
But so far Johnson has had plenty of support.
“When word leaked out I started getting phone calls from current and former players congratulating me,” he said. “The current players say they can’t wait to start, and the former players have said if I ever need anything to give them a call.”
Johnson is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University with a degree in health and physical education.
He will be working at FCHS in the fall.