‘I’m a visionary and a builder’ — Jones eager to get started as Middletown’s new football coach


MIDDLETOWN — Kali Jones is Middletown High School’s new football coach, pending school board approval, Middies athletic director JD Foust announced Thursday.

Jones, the head coach at Withrow since 2019, takes over for Don Simpson, who stepped down after leading the Middie program the last six seasons.

“We are tremendously excited to have Kali Jones come to Middletown to reinvigorate our football program and lead us to championships,” Foust said. “Coach Jones has a unique ability to teach the game of football effectively to his players and to inspire them with his passion.”

Foust said the school received 72 resumes that included a wide range of head coaches and coordinators.

“We conducted a comprehensive search with an impressive array of candidates,” Foust said. “But in the end, Kali is exactly what our program needs right now, and I cannot wait to partner with him to bring the Middie Magic back.”

Jones coached Woodward to a 6-14 record in two seasons before taking the Withrow head coaching job in 2019. Withrow reached the playoffs each of the last four seasons and went 33-21 in five years under Jones’ leadership.

Withrow, a Division II program, made the regional finals for the first time in the school’s 104-year history before losing to Anderson 49-28 this past season.

“I’m leaving Withrow on a very positive note,” Jones said. “I feel we got them 1,000 times better than what they were, and we laid out the blueprint and framework for the next coach.

“The transition has been a good one,” Jones added. “I’m excited and honored to have been given the position at Middletown. Football programs are about leadership, and it can galvanize the community and school. I see this as an opportunity to do that, and I look forward to getting Middletown back to where it once was in this great town and in the Greater Miami Conference.”

The Tigers finished 12-2 — a program record for most wins — in 2023 and won the Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference Red Division title the last two years.

Jones, a 2005 Wright State University graduate, was twice named the CMAC Coach of the Year.

Standout sophomore receiver Chris Henry Jr. led the Tigers this past season and set the program record in receiving yards. He is verbally committed to Ohio State.

“I’m a builder. I’m a visionary and a builder,” Jones said. “I know that Middletown has had a downturn for a little bit. That’s what coaching is about — making sure that OK players become good players, and that good players become great players. I want to be able to inspire my players to want to get to the next level.”

Simpson compiled an 11-47 record from 2018 to 2023 at Middletown, including 3-8 finishes the last two seasons.

The Middies finished eighth in the Greater Miami Conference with a 2-7 record and were the No. 15 seed in Division I, Region 4 this past season. They lost to No. 2 Princeton 41-15 in the first round.

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