Spalding County

Former players, staff in disbelief after Spalding football coach accused of killing girlfriend

SPALDING COUNTY, Ga. — A popular high school football coach remains behind bars after confessing to strangling his girlfriend to death.

Channel 2′ s Michael Seiden was in Spalding County where he spoke with former players, and staff who were shocked by the news.

By all accounts, Carl Kearney, Jr. was more than just the head varsity football coach at Spalding High School.

A former team manager looked at him like a father and credited him for helping her get through one of the hardest times of her life.

But Monday afternoon, police in Maryland are telling a different story.

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Kearney is the head varsity football coach at Spalding High School, but on Monday, the 43-year-old is behind bars charged with murder.

Police say he confessed to strangling his girlfriend, Patrina Best, to death during an argument at her home in Maryland over the weekend.

“When I first heard the news, I pretty much thought it was a joke,” former varsity football team manager Camri Johnson said.

“I was shocked, hurt and I was in disbelief,” the mother of a former player, Lariquia McCord said.

Channel 2 Action News has learned that this is not the first time Kearney has faced charges involving allegations of domestic violence.


In 2015, court records out of Florida show that Kearney was arrested and charged with battery and obstruction after his ex-wife accused him of slapping her in the face. Investigators say she didn’t want to prosecute him, so the charges were dropped.

“He was more than just a coach to him he was like a father figure to him,” McCord said.

The mother of a former player credited Kearney for not only making her son a better player but a better man.

“In fact my son finished school on (the) honor roll. He’s off in college right now and I thank coach Kearney and his staff,” McCord said.

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A spokesperson confirmed that Kearney is still employed as the head football coach but did not release any other details.

Kearney, who was hired as the school’s head coach in 2020 is credited with leading the school to a 12-1 record last year and its first region title in 20 years.

He is scheduled to face a judge on Tuesday morning.

Seiden’s been trying to reach family and friends of the victim, Patrina Best but havent been able to. Numerous messages were posted on social media, where she’s being remembered as a kind and thoughtful woman who attended Georgia Southern University, where she was also a member of the swim team.


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