Craig Barker knew from an early age that coaching was his ultimate career destination. He grew up in a coaching family and said coaching “is all I ever dreamed of doing.”

Barker has realized that dream. A veteran offensive coordinator who helped Henderson go 24-5 during the past two seasons, including the 2010 Class 3A Division I state championship, Barker takes the next step in his career as the new head coach at Garrison.

Barker credits his parents, who were coaches, for setting a strong example throughout his childhood.

“Also, the head coaches that I have worked for -- Dickey Meeks, Jeff Traylor, Reid Waller, Dennis Alexander, and Danny Long -- have prepared me to take this step to become an athletic director and head football coach,” Barker said. “Garrison has tremendous tradition and great kids. When you add the great administration and faculty/staff, this was the perfect fit for me and my family.”

Barker thanks his coaching staff for helping him acclimate to being the head coach of a program. Barker has emphasized organization and attention to detail and plans to run uptempo practices that make the Bulldogs “the best conditioned team on the field.” Barker noted that that organization hasn’t been easy to get used to as a new head coach, but added that the key is communication with players, assistant coaches, and administration.

Keeping up with facilities and equipment have been areas that Barker is now in charge of as a head coach that he was not previously experienced handling. On the field, Barker will keep a similar role to his offensive coordinator position at Henderson, where he ran a Lion offense that averaged 42.3 points per game in 2011.

“I will coach quarterbacks and plan on calling the offense this season,” Barker said.

The first-year head coach comes to Garrison as the Bulldogs make the jump from Class A to Class 2A a season after going 12-2 and reaching the 1A state semifinals. Garrison won a 2A Division II state championship in 2003, so Bulldogs have proven themselves a great 2A program in the past. Garrison will encounter a solid District 10-2A Division II slate in 2012 as the Bulldogs must travel to district favorite Arp and darkhorse Frankston.

But Barker feels prepared, again shifting the credit to the coaches who he said molded him into who he is today.

“The coaches that I have mentioned have been a tremendous resource for me during this time of transition and were instrumental in getting me to this point in my career,” Barker said. “They really modeled for me the right way to coach and lead young people. I cannot thank them enough for all they have done for me.”