ared Carter has been a head football coach waiting to happen for some time now.
And when high-school athletes across the state take the field for their first practice of the 2019 season later this month, the 1997 Wa-Hi graduate will make his debut at Juanita High in Kirkland.
Carter, now 40 years of age, was named the Rebels’ new head coach this spring, replacing Lele Te’o, who ran the program for four seasons and compiled an 18-23 overall record, 9-12 in the Class AA KingCo Conference.
The former Blue Devil was hired as a physical education teacher at Juanita a year ago and will continue in that capacity.
However, for the past five seasons he has served as the defensive coordinator and for the last two as associate head coach at nearby Lake Washington High, Juanita’s intra-city rival.
Which means that a year ago Carter coached against the school and players for whom he taught and would ultimately become the head coach.
“It was tough,” Carter explained in a recent telephone interview. “But I got the teaching job at Juanita late in the summer and couldn’t leave Lake Washington high and dry.
“But the plan was always to come over to Juanita in some coaching capacity. And Lake Washington knew it would be my last year.”
It was a situation that was perhaps harder on Carter than it was on the Juanita players.
“The two schools are in the same town and they are arch-rivals,” Carter said. “And it was tough to coach against kids you see in class every day.
“But the kids at Juanita were all pretty good about it. I was open and told them that I was coming over next year and that this was a one-time deal.”
Carter was a standout football player at Wa-Hi, and he excelled in wrestling and baseball as well. He matriculated to Central Washington University in Ellensburg where he continued his football career as an outside linebacker and graduated in 2002.
But if a coaching and teaching career was calling his name, he didn’t hear it.
Instead, he went into private business and worked in the transportation industry for eight years. During that period, however, he went back to school and earned a master’s degree in education.
“The big reason was to get into coaching,” he explained. “We were just working for ourselves and I wanted to find a way to give back as a teacher and a coach.”
He took his first coaching job with a youth program in Snoqualmie, and after one season he moved up to the high-school freshman team at Mount Si. And the following year he was hired as an assistant coach at Lake Washington.
Before taking the teaching position at Juanita, Carter taught math at Kanim Middle School in Fall City for six years.
Carter’s coaching philosophy, he said, will be an amalgamation of what he learned as an athlete at Wa-Hi and Central Washington.
He played football under both Gary Mires and Marc Yonts at Wa-Hi and for John Zamberlin at Central. Blue Devils wrestling coach Al Sievertsen, baseball coach Scott Tibbling and assistant football coach Mark Thompson were likewise influential, Carter said.
“I think I am a combination of a lot of my previous coaches,” Carter said. “They all helped build me to the person I am today and how to be successful in the game of life.
“I hope to put it all together, take little pieces from all of them, mix it up and come up with something of my own. The idea is to use football to build the best possible people.”
Yonts, for one, isn’t surprised that Carter has come around to coaching.
“Not really,” Yonts said. “He was just a tough, hard-nosed kid who had some seriousness and grit about him that was helpful in football. And I think he is going to be a dynamite head coach.”
John Carter, Jared’s father, is also a former Wa-Hi assistant football coach and has doubtless impacted his son’s development both on and off the field. John’s other two sons, Ryan and Tyler, also played football at Wa-Hi, and Ryan went into the coaching field, first at Wa-Hi and now at Kamiakin High in Kennewick.
“The thing is it is about the Carter family,” Yonts said. “I coached with John for a long time and had the good fortune to coach all three of his boys. And just like John, they were multi-sport athletes who did the little things by the book.”
Juanita won back-to-back Class 4A state football championships in 1984-85 and reached the state finals in 1986. The Rebels have made it as far as the quarterfinals just twice since then, most recently in 2016, and they are coming off a 4-4 record in 2018, 1-3 in the KingCo.
So there’s work to be done, the new coach conceded.
“I think we are going to be OK, but there are obviously some cultural things that I would like to get going,” Carter said. “We’re working on eliminating the mentality of pointing fingers and instead controlling what we can control.
“We’ve had 40-to-45 kids in the weight room working their tails off, kids who want to put the work in. And we have a great freshman class and some sophomores who want to be good.
“I think it will happen fast.”