Smith-Cotton’s football team just ended a perfect regular season, becoming the West Central Conference champions, but head coach Ryan Boyer attributes much of the success to his assistant coaches.
“Without them, it’s not possible,” he said.
With many of the assistant coaches having played football in high school or college, as well as having coached, there is experience on the staff. Boyer said the sharing of ideas between him and his assistants extends to the field during games.
“In-game, it’s nice to be able to have guys with that experience where it’s crunch time and you have a big decision to make,” he said.
Tom Kindle has been coaching at Smith-Cotton for 23 years and at one point, was a head coach. Kindle is currently a defensive line coach for the Tigers and believes that the term “head coach” is just a name.
“I don’t look at it as head coach, assistant coach, all that,” Kindle said. “Everybody has a specific area to coach, and Coach Boyer is trusting you to get that done. … I think that’s how we all approach it. Yes, he’s the head coach by title, and he’s the one who’s gonna get blamed if everything goes bad, but he is the first one to admit it, he’s always calling and thanking (us). … That’s a big plus to an assistant coach. … It makes you feel appreciated.”
Austin Jaekel, a senior offensive and defensive starter for Smith-Cotton, said the assistant coaches’ experience helps the team.
“In my opinion, you can’t be a great football coach unless you’ve had some experience playing because you don’t know what it takes,” Jaekel said. “But since all of them have the experience, have the knowledge because they’ve played it, they coach us to a higher level.”
The assistant coaches also help take the pressures of running a football team out of the equation.
“There’s times that I get pulled away for whatever reason,” Boyer said. “And what’s nice about that is I have full faith in them to do everything we’ve discussed and run the practice or run the film session.”
Boyer said the team benefits from having multiple pairs of eyes evaluating the players.
“You always want quality over quantity, but the more coaches we can have with the same vision, then the more individual attention you can give to kids,” he said. “We always want to have a coach there that they can come to with any problems they may have.”
L.J. Marsh, another senior offensive and defensive starter, said the assistant coaches push players to reach their full potential.
“What they do is, they challenge to be greater than what you are now,” he said. “They don’t like where you’re at right now, they want you to get better and better every time, each day find something new to get better at.”
Jaekel said, “They’re assigned to help us do our job to full potential. If we’re all doing our job to full potential, then it’s just clicking,”
Martin Zerilli, another defensive coach for Smith-Cotton, said: “ After we get done with a game, whether it’s a home game or an away game, all the coaches are in here watching film, so that film is done that night … whether we get home at 1 in the morning or we’re playing at home and we’re done at 10.”
Defensive coordinator and safeties coach Charlie McFail said being an assistant coach takes up “quite a bit of time.” With jobs including going to practice and working on film, McFail said: “It’s a seven day a week job, and I’d say probably on average, you’re spending at least seven hours a day just on the football side of it … It’s worth it. You gotta get prepared. You don’t want to go into any situation unprepared.”