v Looking at head coaches in the 2017 football title games - Sports in Kansas

Looking at head coaches in the 2017 football title games

Keith Wiatrak has St. Paul in title game for the 1st time in 15 yrs (photo: Sean Frye, Parsons Sun)
By: Sports in Kansas - Chet Kuplen
Nov 20, 2017

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Sixteen coaches remain in eight title games in Kansas, we take a look at each of them. This feature is presented by Rack Performance, a weight room software company that was founded right here in Kansas. Do you want to take your weight room to the next level? Rack Performance is like hiring the most dependable assistant coach that you could find. Rack Performance exists to help coaches and understands how important and difficult their jobs are. Visit Rack online to start building your championship program today at rackperformance.com 

6A

Brandon Clark, Derby

Clark is in the title game for the third consecutive year and fourth time in five years. He is 104-35 as the head coach of the Derby program in his 12th year. He has three state titles (2013, 2015, 2016). Prior to Clark Derby had just one state title in 1994 under Tom Young. This may be one of his best coaching jobs to take a team that returned only five offensive starters and one defensive starts to the 6A title game with only one loss during the regular season to Goddard. Has there been a better coach in Kansas over the last five seasons?

Andy Sims, BV North

It wasn’t long ago that the Blue Valley North program was not very good at all. Everybody makes the playoffs now in 6A and 5A but that wasn't always the case until last season. The Mustangs had a eight year drought of playoff appearances before Sims first took them in his second year in 2015. He has now made the playoffs three consecutive seasons. With that being said, it’s not hard to get losses in the EKL and anybody taken a job in this league figures out real fast how tough it is. Sims has seemed to be the perfect fit to get that figured out to being a competitive team in the state's best league. In 2015 he led them to their first winning season in a decade with a share of the EKL title. He followed that up with a 7-4 mark last year with several brand-new starters. Sims is 25-17 in his fourth year as the head coach and has them in their first ever title game in school history. BV North only had one semifinal appearance prior to him in school history that coming in 2003.

5A

Randy Dreiling, Aquinas

Dreiling is one of the most accomplished coaches in Kansas history. What he did at Hutchinson is one of the best if not the best turnarounds in state history. When he took over the Hutchinson program in 1997 they were on a 26-game losing streak. Nobody wanted the job or thought it was possible to do what he did. He turned the program into a state power with seven state titles, six of them were in a row from 2004-to-2009, then added one in 2011 before coaching his last year there in 2013. He now has Aquinas on the verge of their first ever state title in football history in his fourth year with the school. His last appearance in the title game was in 2014 with his first year at STA as they took runner-up to Bishop Carroll. A win on Friday would do that and give him his eighth state title. Dreiling is 37-12 at Aquinas playing in the state’s best league (EKL) and 222-88 all-time as a head coach in 28 total years. We expected the Saints to be here as they returned all but four of their starters off two-units that only go one way.

Dusty Trail, Carroll

Trail spent 22 years as an assistant for Alan Schuckman, so he got to learn from one of the best at one of the best programs in Kansas over that time. He continued right in Golden Eagle fashion as he has them back into the title game for the first time since the 2015 season. They will look for their first state title since the 2014 season where they beat Saturday’s opponent Aquinas. Trail has his team off to a 11-1 start. Trail and Dreiling have a connection as Trail was a player at Fort Hays State while Dreiling was a grad assistant for the program in the late 80’s. Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy was also a grad assistant on that staff after graduating from Baker University. Trail has seemed to be the perfect fit to continue the storied tradition that BC has.

4A-I

Jon Holmes, Miege

Holmes is 65-10 in his sixth year since taking over for Tim Grunhard, a current assistant at Miege, who left after the 2011 season to coach the offensive line at Kansas for a couple of seasons. Holmes has turned this program onto the verge of potentially being a regional power with its domination recently. While Holmes is one of the top young coaches in the game, his staff is one of the best in Kansas with offensive coordinator Justin Hoover, a quarterback guru, and Grunhard, a former NFL lineman and head coach at Miege. It’s no surprise Miege is dominating 4A-I competition as they should be, but they also dominated the state’s best league this year. Miege may seem like a pass heavy team but have been very balanced under Holmes this year and can score about as fast as you can imagine with record breaking quarterback Carter Putz and the team-speed that surrounds him. Holmes has three state titles as the head coach, the last three in 4A-I (2014, 2015, 2016). He has three of the schools seven state titles with Grunhard having one (2009). Prior to Grunhard and Holmes the titles were last in the 1970’s (1972, 1975, 1977). Holmes is 3-1 in title games, taking 5A runner-up back in 2012.

Dylan Schmidt, Andale

Schmidt is in his first year as the head coach of the Indian program and so far, it’s been perfect with his 12-0 record. Schmidt, who was an all-state player for the Indians and a pole vaulter at Wichita State, seems to be the perfect fit in taking over for Gary O’Hair who was one of the best in all of 4A. O’Hair won 150 games and had three state titles with the program and Schmidt has them in the title game for the first time in three years since winning it all in 4A-II back in 2014. Schmidt was a head coach previously for a season at Wellington but returned the last few seasons as an assistant for O’Hair and has help lead the track and field teams to being one of the most successful programs in all of Kansas. What’s most impressive is that Andale only returned four offensive starters and three defensive starters off an 8-2 squad in 2016. Schmidt gets it done on the ground but showed the ability to throw over McPherson, they also don’t standout with stars and get it done with a total team effort on both sides of the football. Andale is 3-0 all-time in title games, but will get its biggest test perhaps of the history of their program on Saturday against Kansas power Bishop Miege.

4A-II

Mark Smith, Frontenac

If anyone knows anything about state titles it’s Mark Smith, however those were as a player in high school. The Raider head coach went 54-0 in high school at nearby rival St. Mary’s Colgan where he was a three-year all-state all-class starting quarterback for his father, Chuck Smith. He went on to become a two-time All-American quarterback at Pittsburg State University. He is now making his mark on coaching as he is turning himself into one of the best young coaches in Kansas. He took a squad that returned only one offensive starter from last season and has them into the title game for the first time in 17 years. Not that junior high football matters, but to give you an idea of the progress, this group of seniors won just two games combined in two years of junior high football, to now playing in a state title game of going through the Mark Smith-ran program. At one point this year, the Raiders were 1-2 and later 3-3, to now winning six consecutive. It looked like an average season at best and a best-case scenario, district runner-up playoff spot. The exact opposite has happened as they have knocked off Columbus in districts, Holton and Hayden in the playoffs, all teams that they were not considered a favorite in. Smith isn’t a one-year wonder either as he has the Frontenac program at 47-18 in his sixth year as the head coach with two CNC league titles. His 2014 CNC title at Frontenac was the first league title for the Raiders in 20 years. Prior to taking over the Raiders had a little bit of a downslide compared to where they once were for several years as the program is still #2 all-time in the state of Kansas in total victories, only behind Lawrence High School

Kent Teeter, Holcomb

Teeter has been the perfect fit for the Longhorn program. Now in his fourth year as the head coach he has them in their second title game appearance in three years, last winning it all in 2015. Teeter has at least been in the semifinal every single year as the Holcomb head coach. Prior to Teeter the furthest the Holcomb program had ever made it was one semifinal appearance in school history back in 1994. Teeter runs a balanced 50/50 attack of running and passing. His defense has also allowed 15 or less points in all 11 of their wins this season. They also got their early season loss against Scott City back this past week. Teeter is 42-7 as the Longhorn head coach. Holcomb has had a ton of success here recently with state titles in basketball (2015, 2017), football (2015) and baseball (2017). What’s most impressive about this year’s team is it’s hard to key on any one player as several contribute, however they are led by senior multi-sport athlete Trey Gilbert, who has been outstanding at the quarterback position in his second year as the starter. Teeter is 112-67 all-time as a head coach and was previously at Goodland (6 years) and Hays (8 years) before Holcomb. His only state title also had his son, Trey Teeter, as the quarterback for the Longhorns in 2015. The last and only QB to win a title for Holcomb was a Trey and a title on Saturday would make two.

3A

Garrett Michael, Sabetha

Sabetha was supposed to be pretty decent this year but none of the experts had them getting into a title game. It has been 20 years since they have been in the title game last winning 4A in 1997 and 1993. This also marks the first title appearance in 3A since 1986. Michael proved everyone wrong in the gauntlet of 3A by keeping the ball on the ground with his dominating rushing attack of 340 plus yards per game. Sabetha has only attempted 39 passes in 13 games, so it’s no secret what they like to do and has proven to be a perfect recipe for success this season. The defense is also clicking as they have 19 interceptions as a unit this season. Michael is 57-41 as the head coach in his ninth year.

Dustin Heuer, Marysville

Heuer may have the best turn-around out of everyone on this list, besides the titles that Randy Dreiling had after inheriting a 26-game losing streak at Hutchinson. Just three years ago Marysville was on a 32-game losing streak and each year since Heuer and Marysville have made steps in improving. Marysville was 0-18 in his first two seasons as the head coach but in 2015 the Bulldogs improved to 4-6, to finally getting their first winning season since 2009 last year by going 7-3. Although 7-3 last year, nobody had the Bulldogs making a title run this year and they did it through perhaps the toughest classification to get through with an extra game and 64 schools in the class with loaded districts. Nobody had Marysville vs. Sabetha in the title game in 3A that is for sure, especially with your Silver Lake’s, Nemaha Central’s, Phillipsburg’s and Conway Springs’ of the world. Heuer career record isn’t impressive at 23-28 but to take a team that won zero games as freshman to a state title is perhaps the best coaching job on this list this year. Incredible run so far for the Bulldogs. It’s definitely in his blood as the Hanover native is brother to Matt Heuer who has the Hanover team in its fourth consecutive title in the 8-man ranks, this year in 8M-II. Marysville is 0-2 all-time in Kansas title games last getting runner-up in 2009 when they were the east bracket representative.

2-1A

Shawn Seematter, St. Mary’s Colgan

Seematter is in his first year as the head coach of the Colgan program who has now only had three coaches including Seematter since 1961. Frank Crespino, who is in the KSHSAA Hall of Fame, won two state titles with the Panthers in 1974 and 1975. Crespino retired after the 1979 season then Chuck Smith took over and spent 37 years with the school. Smith became one of the greatest coaches in Kansas history with a 343-75 record with five state titles. He also had the state’s longest winning streak at 66 from 2000-to-2004 which was snapped by Smith Center on their way to 79-straight, still a state record. Seematter had big shoes to fill and the young defensive coordinator who came to Colgan via Halstead HS has done outstanding in his first year as the head man. He has the Panthers in the title game for the first time in seven years (2010). The Panthers are 10-2 on the year and returned just five starters on offense and three on defense. They also faced early injuries, have got it done with an option attack offensively with clock control and their team speed on defense. Colgan is 7-7 all-time in state title games and Seematter will be the coach of the team in their 15th title game appearance. Colgan’s last football title came in 2003. Both coaches in the 2-1A title game will be making their first appearances as head coaches and both replaced Kansas legends (Roger Barta, Smith Center).

Darren Sasse, Smith Center

Sasse obviously had huge shoes to fill in replacing Roger Barta as did Seematter above at Colgan. He has the Redmen in their first state title game since the 2009 game in which the Redmen lost to Centralia as their 79-game all-time winning streak was snapped, still a Kansas record. Sasse is 43-13 as the head man at Smith Center in his fifth year as the head coach. We expected the Redmen to be in this position after a 9-3 run last year, losing two close ones to eventual 2-1A runner-up Plainville. They retuned seven offensive starters and six defensive starters. Sasse’s group gets it done with five rushers over at least 400 yards this year and a defense that has only allowed 48 points in their 11 wins. They average around 330 rushing yards per game this season. The defense also has 19 interceptions and 17 sacks this year. The Redmen are looking for their first state title since the 2008 season. They won five consecutive under Barta from 2004-to-2008. Three of those were against Saturday’s opponent, St. Mary’s Colgan (2004, 2005, 2007). SC is 8-3 all-time in state title games, all 11 of those appearances were under Barta. On Saturday, Sasse will be the only other head coach at Smith Center to coach for a state football title game in school history.

8M-I

Keith Wiatrak, St. Paul

Wiatrak has the Indians into the state football title game for the first time since the 2002 season. The Indians who had a ton of success in the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s dropped off for a bit as they didn’t make the playoffs from 2011-to-2015. Wiatrak knows all about the success of the Indians as he was a player on the 1991 state runner-up team for Doug Tuck as a quarterback. He was also an assistant coach on the two state titles under Tuck (2000, 2002) and runner-up finishes in 1998 and 1999. St. Paul also had a 2-1A title in 1986 under head coach Lloyd Tiffany before going to the 8-man ranks. Wiatrak also has the Indians in the playoffs in back to back seasons this year for the first time since the 2003 and 2004 seasons. The most impressive thing about the St. Paul team is their effort over the last two weeks. They trailed by 14 late in the third quarter against #1 Burlingame last week and closed out the contest by scoring the last 23 points of the game. The previous week they scored the last 27 points against defending state champion Osborne after trailing 24-8 entering the fourth quarter. Two of the most impressive comebacks we’ve seen all year. We know one thing Wiatrak and the Indians know how to figure out how to win a ballgame. Wiatrak is 29-12 as the SP head coach in four years.

Lance Baar, Hoxie

Baar is in his eight year with the Hoxie program and like Wiatrak of St. Paul is also coaching in his first title game match-up. We figured Hoxie would be pretty good. In fact, while out in Quinter this summer, we asked a young man who the team to beat this year was and he replied Hoxie. He knew what he was talking about as the Indians are in their first state football title game since 1981. Baar is 59-29 as the head coach in his 8th year with the program. Hoxie has used a stingy defense to create turnovers this year, in fact 21 of them as interceptions through 12 games.

8M-II

Matt Heuer, Hanover

Heuer is no stranger to a lot of success in the 8-man ranks with a 126-26 record as the head coach for the Wildcats. Last season they went 12-0 en route to winning a 8M-II state title. The Wildcats are in the title game for the fourth consecutive season. Hanover has eight all-time appearances in the title game, seven of which have come under Heuer. He is 3-3 all-time in state title games and the school is 4-3. Tom Young, a Kansas coaching Legend with 343 wins, had the fourth state title for Hanover back in 1979. Young also won state titles at Wellington and Derby, before retiring at McPherson a few years back. Heuer’s brother, Dustin, has done a complete rebuild of the Marysville program and has them in the 3A title this year. Heuer has won 24 consecutive games as the head coach at Hanover. Through the first seven weeks of the season they only allowed 12 points. In five consecutive weeks from week three to week seven they allowed zero points with five consecutive shutouts. It seems to never be rebuilding in Hanover, it’s more reloading.

Matt Housman, Hodgeman County

Housman is in his seventh year as the Hodgeman County coach with a 64-21 record. Jetmore and Hanston consolidated back in 2011 to form Hodgeman County. Hanston had a ton of success in the 8-man ranks with nine title appearances and six titles, all coming from the years 1989-2004. Jetmore also had a lot of success with two state titles (2001, 2003) and a state runner-up finish (2006). Since consolidation they have one title game appearance earning runner-up back in 2013. What’s most impressive about the way Hodgeman County got back to state is they took district runner-up losing 58-26 to Otis Bison less than a month ago before getting that loss back this past Friday in a dominating 42-16 victory. Although Hanston and Jetmore had a ton of success, a win on Friday would be the first state football title as Hodgeman County.