New Gar-Field coach Joe Mangano will never forget the first player he met after taking the job in the spring -- running back Mike King.
"The first time I came into the Gar-Field football office . . . he walked in with two or three other kids," Mangano recalled. "I remember his firm handshake, and he looked me right in the eyes the whole time and had a very mature approach about him. It kind of stuck with me from the first time I met him. He's been very committed to the new coach and the staff."
It's that sort of take-charge demeanor that has gotten King, a student government representative last school year as a sophomore, elected as one of three team captains, with twice as many votes as any other player. That's quite an honor for a guy who played mostly on the junior varsity last season.
"I'm just easy to get along with," said King, a Gar-Field ball boy when he was at Godwin Middle School. "I try to motivate the other players and push them to the best of their abilities. I think that's what really stood out."
A fullback in former coach Jim Poythress's system, the 5-foot-8, 185-pound King, who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds and benches almost 300 pounds, will play more of a tailback spot in the fall.
Mangano, offensive coordinator at Stonewall Jackson last season, compares King in some ways to Stonewall senior Chris Garrett, a 1,300-yard rusher in 2003.
"Chris is more shifty and more elusive; Mike is a little bit bigger and a little bit stronger and both have very good vision," Mangano said. "Where I'd equate Mike to Chris is work ethic. When I was at Stonewall, I thought Chris was probably the hardest-working player on the team."
King knows he has a lot to live up to as a Gar-Field running back. During Poythress's three-year tenure, the Indians rushed for 7,590 yards -- more than four miles.
"Mike Copeland -- thousand yards. Rasheed McClaude -- thousand yards. Elihu Smith -- thousand yards," King said, rattling off recent Indian standouts. "I'm trying to show them I can have a 1,000-yard season, too."