Ryan Boyer is the new head football coach of the Smith-Cotton Tigers.
Boyer, a graduate of Warsaw and Central Methodist, was named head coach on Thursday.
”It’s very exciting,” he said. “I’m excited for the opportunity. It’s been an exciting process and I’m ready to hit the ground running. There are things I want to get done right away and get this program headed in a new direction.”
Boyer had been the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Mark Johnson for the past two season and has coached the Smith-Cotton freshmen and junior varsity teams.
”Kids love him, kids love to play for him,” said Smith-Cotton athletic director Rob Davis. “He’s got the ability to motivate them which is what the committee decided we wanted, somebody who can build relationships with kids and motivate them. We thought that he, out of all the people we interviewed, would do the best job of that.”
Following Johnson’s decision to retire from coaching at the end of the 2013 season, Smith-Cotton put together a search committee to find the next head coach of the Tigers.
”When coach Johnson retired, (Smith-Cotton principal Wade) Norton and I got together and we brainstormed what we thought were important traits that this new coach had to have,” Davis said. “We thought that the community had to have some input.”
The search committee, which included junior high coaches, youth football coaches, booster club members and Smith-Cotton football players, saw that in Boyer.
“In the past we’ve had success and we’re ready to take it to a new level,” Boyer said. “I was able to learn a lot from coach Johnson. There will be some changes that will be made. Talent will always dictate how much of anything we can do.”
Boyer looks to install a balanced offense. On defense he wants to use either a 3-4 or a 4-3 with two high safeties which he feels will help prevent big plays.
Though he was an assistant coach on the offensive side the past two years, he played defense in college.
“That’s one thing I want to bring to our staff is to get everybody involved on both sides,” he said. “That way, collectively, we’re all informed and that will help us to work all together.”
Boyer sees this as a long-term job. He and his wife are both teachers and he has been teaching in the district since 2009.
“We see ourselves being here for a long time,” he said. “I can’t think of a better place to be for a long time to start my head coaching career.”
Boyer teaches science at Smith-Cotton Junior High, so even the freshmen coming into the football program next fall already know him.
“It’s a neat place to be because you can build those relationships,” he said.
Boyer said he also hopes to help build those relationships through youth camps, getting his players out into the community giving back to form those connections between Tiger football and the community.
“He understands what we need to do to improve the program, to take steps for the future, but he also understands what works,” Davis said. “He knows who the allies are out there and who he can go to for help. It’s much easier, I think, when you hire from the inside who knows the ins and outs of the program a little bit before they have to jump in and be a head coach.”
Boyer is not the only recent Smith-Cotton coaching hire who comes in already knowing the student athletes and being familiar with the community before taking the job. Girls basketball coach Zach Vandevender, now in his second year, was previously an assistant coach with the boys basketball team. Darcia Koetting was an assistant coach and worked with youth teams before taking over the Lady Tigers volleyball team last fall. Jud Kindle will begin his first season as Tigers baseball coach in the spring, but many baseball players already knew him through the Kindle Sports Academy and his work with the Sedalia Bombers.
It has been a busy year for coaching changes at Smith-Cotton. Along with Koetting and Kindle taking over Smith-Cotton teams, Lensie Means replaces Heather Clancy as boys tennis coach and there is still one more coaching vacancy to fill after Clyde Ditto stepped down as softball coach.
“It’s been a weird year,” Davis said. “It’s obviously not what we like to do. We want to hire people that are here for a long time, and coach Johnson had been here forever. We’ve had to find a baseball coach, football coach, we’re now in the process of finding a softball coach.”
The first day of training camp of Boyer’s first year as head coach is six months away, and he and the Tigers will be keeping busy.
“We’ll be with our players training in the weight room, doing our offseason workouts,” Boyer said. “In the summer we’ll have our camps and get prepared and before you know it, the season will be here.”