“I'm excited about going to Franklin County, but it's tough to leave Polk County," expressed Carter, who has spent the last five seasons with the Wildcats, the latter two as the head coach.
After spending three years as an assistant coach under Bill Triplett, Carter took over the Polk program two seasons ago, leading the team to the 2012 District 5-AA runner-up spot before falling to eventual state tournament participant Red Bank 10-9 in the opening round of the Region 3-AA Tournament.
This past spring, the Wildcats went 14-17-1 overall, but 5-3 in district play, earning them the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament. After winning its opening game in the 5-AA event, Polk fell to top-seeded Sequoyah and then was nipped 11-10 by third-seeded Meigs County for the final region berth.
While he was an assistant coach, the Wildcats made the 2011 TSSAA State Tournament and advanced to the sectional game the previous season.
"We had some good runs. This past year is the only year in my time here we didn't make the region," Carter said. "The support at Polk was really good. If the baseball team ever needed anything, they were always willing to work for us.
“The booster club worked really hard, and while it's sometimes hard to raise funds in a small town, they did a good job of making it as easy as possible on a coach."
Carter had once again been helping to coach a travel team this summer when he was made aware of the opening in Winchester.
"I wasn't looking to move. I got a call from a guy over there asking if I'd be interested," he explained. "I talked with the principal and they offered me the job. I think they were looking for a young guy. I know they've had some good talent, but I think they've had some coaching instability that kept that talent from being developed."
The Rebels have gone 42-48 the past three seasons and haven’t advanced out of their district tournament in more than a decade. Franklin County plays in an extremely tough District 8-AAA along with Middle Tennessee powerhouses like Tullahoma, Shelbyville, Coffee County and Columbia Central.
"I know they play really good baseball in the Middle Tennessee area, and I have always thought I'd like to coach in that area, eventually," Carter said.
Franklin County plays its home games in the old Tennessee Tomahawks Park, a minor league stadium that holds about 2,000 people.
"There are a couple of older gentlemen that do a lot of the baseball field work, and I'll be working with them. I wouldn't know how to act if I didn't have a field to take care of. And I've been told that their booster club is quite active," commented Carter.
Carter played high school baseball at McMinn Central High School under current Walker Valley head coach Joe Shamblin, plus is close friends with Bradley Central head coach Travis Adams, who once coached in District 8-AAA at Coffee County.
Playing tough competition is nothing new for Carter as he had his AA Wildcats playing class AAA teams for almost half their schedules the past two seasons.
“I’ve always felt the way to get better is to play strong competition,” he related. “It may not look good on your final win-loss record, but it will help you in the long run.”
“We hate to lose Michael. He is what we want at Polk County, someone who will work hard and take pride in the program,” commented Polk athletic director and new principal Ron German. “He’s got a great opportunity, with no field maintenence worries at a city-owned park and a real nice raise, so you can’t blame him for taking the job.
“We are going to miss him and we will start looking for a new coach as soon as I get back,” commented German, who is out of town for a few days. Polk County opens the new school year on Aug. 12.