Cherokee’s Kurtis Koester, who threw for 5,965 yards from 1998-2000, will be inducted Jan. 28 at First Baptist Church of Canton, along with one representative from each of the county’s other four established high schools — save for River Ridge. Inductees were selected by each school’s current head football coach.
Koester, who now resides in Vinings, ranks 19th in state history for career passing yards, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association — despite playing football at Cherokee for just three seasons.
Koester played for his father, Ed, who served as the Warriors’ coach from 1998-2000.
“It’s a great honor,” said Kurtis Koester, who went on to quarterback teams at Chattanooga and Lenoir-Rhyne. “I’m very excited to represent Cherokee High School and be inducted into the hall of fame.”
Considering some of the other members of the gridiron club’s hall, include current San Francisco 49ers fullback Bruce Miller (Woodstock) and Cleveland Browns cornerback Buster Skrine (Etowah), Koester is in good company.
“There have been some tremendous athletes from Cherokee County,” said Ed Koester, who spent the last five seasons at South Cobb High School before resigning earlier this week. “I don’t think you ever expect these kinds of things. Kurtis had a real good career at Cherokee High School, which kind of was on the ground floor of rebuilding it and getting it back on a winning track. But there was no anticipation of (the hall of fame).”
Kurtis Koester said he received plenty of accolades during his career.
“Our team wasn’t the most successful team, but we were very competitive,” said Koester, who was part of Cherokee teams that went a combined 8-22 in his three years. “I remember I threw for a lot of yards and had a lot of touchdowns and had a lot of different mentions for all-region and all-state and that sort, but I probably would have given all that up to win a few more games and make the playoffs.
“I didn’t think my career warranted anything (like this), but it’s a good honor.”
Koester, who graduated from Cherokee in 2001, moved to the area from Texas when his father accepted the school’s coaching position during the spring of his freshman year. He started at quarterback in his three remaining seasons.
Among his memories were playing alongside Jayson Foster when Koester was a senior and Foster a sophomore.
“We had to talk (Foster) into playing because his mom thought he was too small of a player and going to get hurt,” Koester said. “We had to say, ‘Well, he’s a little too fast to get hurt. If you let him play, he will do well.’”
Foster took over as quarterback after Koester’s graduation, and Brian Dameron’s insertion as head coach. He then went on to a standout career at Georgia Southern, where he won the Walter Payton Award as the Football Championship Subdivision’s best offensive player in 2007, and later spent time in the training camps of four NFL teams.
“Obviously, it paid out well for him,” Koester added. “He made me look good for a year.”
The hall of fame inductions will occur on the same night that the gridiron club celebrates the county’s best players of the 2012 season. Former Atlanta sportscaster Chuck Dowdle will serve as the emcee, with Valdosta State coach David Dean the keynote speaker.