Recently, I conducted a study of the SFL Coaches from 1954 to 2017. This study consisted of 14 schools including Leavenworth, as they are en route to the new United Kansas League starting the 2018-2019 school year.
At the High School level, and perhaps any level of paid Coaching from the High School levels on up, it is a very big job. No one says it will be easy to win over an Administration and Athletic Director during a job interview or performance review(s), in addition to winning over young student-athletes, and parents in to your vision, and more as a staff in what school A, B, or C will do to accomplish to start the season off right.
Many factors to numerous to count go in to a job at any level in the Coaching world. Yes, you do Coach, but first and foremost you are hired to teach. Ultimately, that is still the most important job of all in the hallways of a high school across the country. Our League alone, has produced some of the best and most challenged academically powered minds going in to Ivy League schools, the local Junior Colleges across the state of Kansas, MIAA, KCAC, and the big 3: KU, KSU, and MU at one time or another. That includes our sister league the EKL.
There is, and has been, no shortage of great, good, bad, and okay "Head Coaches" that have come and gone throughout the decades of the Sunflower League since 1954. That said, do you as a student-athlete, teacher-coach, Administrator, Athletic Director find it all that important depending on your home life outside of the classroom how important your Coaches are?!
Each one on the Staff is there for a reason, and as a Teacher-Coach to make you, the young man, student-athlete, future husband, Banker, Soldier, Marine, Airmen, Mailman, Supervisor of any future job in the 'real world' you can be in addition to how you are raised at home. Believe me, your parents, guardians, and extended family, all want the best for you. Believe in their love and support, as they will be in the stands cheering you on Friday nights every season. This time is important, as it goes by quick and soon you will be off to college before you know it.
While the Winter sports season is upon us, these Coaching staffs will be planning Spring conditioning, attending 7v7 Camps across the KC-metro, and summer weights prior to the start of school.
DYK's of the SFL as we know it
* 14 Sunflower Head Coaches past and present have won State Titles in the large class enrollment brackets from 1954 to 2017.
* Of those 14, only one (Dick Purdy of: SM West and Lawrence) won a State Title with two different programs/teams.
* Excluding Leavenworth entering 2018 only, there have been 70 total Head Coaches and 31 State Titles won by 13 Head Coaches. Lawrence (11) and Olathe North (8) own the most outright titles won on the gridiron.
* The Football bloodlines of Olathe East (Jeff Meyers and Jesse Owen, both Olathe-North Eagles Alumni) and Olathe Northwest (Principal Todd Dain of SM South) and Chip Sherman are the bloodlines of the SM East Lancers. At no other school within the league is there anything like this. Both schools have yet to produce a State Title in this modern era of the SFL 2010-2019.
* Entering the 2018 season, a record six new Coaches will debut in their first or perhaps a second tenure within the league. This includes TJ O'Neill of Olathe West as his 2017 season was a Junior Varsity season.
*** How hard is it to win a State Football Title in the 6-5A East? - SFL - ***
- Lawrence, since the opening of Lawrence Free State, in the Fall of the 1997-98 school year, the Chesty Lions have yet to return to the State Title game. Under Dick Purdy, their last Title win was the 1995 season two years before the Firebirds doors opened.
- Free State, under the legacy created by Bob Lisher, a Chesty Lion alumni, has yet to win a State Title. He came close once during the 2008 season, but have fallen short due to running in to a strong Derby Panthers in each of the last three years.
- Gardner-Edgerton is new to the SFL and will be out to start with a new Head Coach to start the 2018 season.
- Leavenworth, since 1981 has never fielded a trip to the 5 or 6A State Title game, and only competing in six playoff games mostly under Kevin Kopecky and Mark Littrell.
- Olathe East, played for a 6A State Title in 2005 losing 24-7 to a very good Hutch SaltHawks program at the time led by current ST Aquinas Saints Head Coach Randy Dreiling. The Hawks have yet to return to the Title game since that season. Olathe East had a run of 12 straight playoff seasons in that time from 2002 to 2013.
- Olathe North, the Granddaddy of the Olathe #233 Football programs has won 8 State Titles. Under Pete Flood, the Eagles last won in 2009, only to fall short and attain a second place finish in 2010.
- Olathe Northwest, under Todd Dain and Chip Sherman have yet to reach a State Title in 14 Varsity Football seasons since their start as Varsity in 2004. In 2003, the Ravens, similar to the 2017 Owls competed as Junior Varsity
- Olathe South, under former Head Coach Jeff Gouley, the Falcons won their first State Title during the 2011 season. In three prior trips, led by current Leavenworth Pioneers Head Coach Mark Littrell, the Falcons fell short in 1999 to Garden City, and the Hutchinson SaltHawks, led by Randy Dreiling in 2004 and 2007.
- Olathe West is the baby of the Sunflower League and will begin writing their history in the 2018 season with a strong following.
- For SM East, prior to the 2014 State Championship team, no Lancer Football team had ever sniffed the thought of even thinking it could happen, the Lancers waited 56 seasons when the doors opened in 1958-59.
- SM North last won outright in 1974 for Larry Taylor. It has been 43 Football seasons since the Indians have returned to the State Final. The 2000 and 2016 Indians were the only teams closest to reaching those dreams of making something big happen in the league.
- SM Northwest last won a State Title during the 1981 season, led by legendary Rockhurst Head Coach Tony Severino. On that 1981 team, former SM East Head Coach John Stonner was a member of the Cougars Football team. Since the 2017 season it has been 36 seasons.
- SM South last won a State Title during the 1975 season and second overall (1973) under SM South legend John Davis. John Davis' tenure spanned 20 years from 1966 to 1985 prior to retiring. 42 seasons have passed including this 2017 season, and 17 straight losing seasons starting in 2001.
- SM West recently gained a State Title during the 2012 season. For the first time since the 70's, the Vikings led by 16th year Head Coach Tim Callaghan, were dominate, ironically in a huge win over Randy Dreiling's SaltHawks. Notice a trend here?! Although it has been a rough ride for the Vikings during the 2017 season, they will improve, only to have suffered their second winless season in the history of the Vikings Football program.