PHS Coaching Carousel Is a Win-Win
At 6-foot-5, Willie Oglesby looked oddly out of place as he put the Pinecrest defensive backs through their paces during a recent summer morning workout.
D-backs of that size are not commomplace at any level of football and the former Bethune-Cookman star has added a few pounds since his playing days. But he was right where he belonged in terms of his area of expertise. In four years at the Daytona Beach, Fla., college he made enough plays as an all-conference safety and cornerback to rank fourth on its all-time list in career tackles and 10th in interceptions.
"I was big enough to play the down positions, but fast enough to play the cornerback position," he says.
Oglesby was a member of the Iowa Barnstormers team that included NFL great Kurt Warner and is one of six new varsity assistant coaches, possessing impressive backgrounds and credentials.
The success of the Patriot football program since head coach Chris Metzger took over in 2007, after a successful four years at Lely High School in Florida, has contributed to a fluid coaching situation.
'Each year we have guys that want to move up in the profession and become head coaches," Metzger says. "When you have been blessed like we have to go places that have had some success and had some great kids that have had success, other people pay attention, and they want the coaches. It's all about moving up the ladder."
David Miller, one of Metzger's assistants in 2007, returned to Lely in 2008, and is about to begin his second year as the head coach there. Pinecrest graduate Ryan Riggan starts his second season as the head coach at Union Pines after a year under Metzger.
Mike Vogt left Pinecrest after the 2009 season to become the head coach at a new high school in Orange City, Florida. A number of others have moved on to accept positions as assistant head coaches and coordinators.
The flip side is that a respected program also attracts people that want to be a part of something good.
New outside linebackers coach Dennis Hall possesses a wealth of defensive coaching experience that earned him induction into the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007. Offensive coach Mike Loutzenheiser brings head coaching experience from Southwestern Randolph where he was the head man the last four seasons.
When former Patriot three-sport athlete Antwan Murchison didn't get the offer to play professional football he hoped for, he became an offensive line coach. He played three years at Clemson and earned his degree before finishing his playing career at Mars Hill where he earned all-conference honors last fall.
Pinecrest football teams suffered through some tough times, winning a total of four games during Murchison's three varsity seasons.
"It's just a blessing to have a former Patriot like Antwan," Metzger says. "He talks to the kids about how fortunate they are because of the way the community has rallied around the program and to take advantage of what they've got. He's been at the highest level and gotten his degree. He's seen it all."
The youngest of the newcomers is 23-year-old Ben Hammer, a starting offensive guard in his last two season at Illinois Wesleyan. Like Murchison, he measures in at about 6-5, 300 and will coach the wide receivers.
Hammer was attracted to the way the Pinecrest program addresses more than just the football.
"I like the way Coach Metzger teaches life skills alot with the kids," he says. "It's about more than the game of football. It's about being successful in life. It's really beneficial to the kids in the long run instead of just coming here and playing football for four years."
The other varsity newcomer, Jason Sparks, has been at Pinecrest since February. He played football at Morehead State before earning his degree and serving as a student assistant coach at Eastern Kentucky, and five years overall, as a college coach. Most recently, he coached at a high school near Columbus, Ohio.
The defensive line and special teams coordinator has already made his mark on campus with an out-going personality.
"That's the gift I was given," he says. "I've always been up-tempo and energetic. I've always had the knack for drawing people and drawing to people.
"The things we do here are unbelievable. It's just totally focused on the kids. There are a lot of opportunities for the kids to succeed which is good."
Metzger is going to continue serving as the defensive coordinator and coach the inside linebackers. Cameron Bennett is back for his fourth year as offensive coordinator and assistant head coach. Dan Matthews (quarterbacks) and Greg Mayer (linebackers, freshmen) are the other coaches that came with Metzger to Pinecrest in 2007. Charlie Bradbury (running backs) has extensive experience as a college coach and begins his third year at Pinecrest.
"I worked for great guys and at a very young age had an athletic director and a principal that believed in me Metzger," says. "We screen our coaches specifically from the standpoint that first of all it's about character and how we do things. They have to believe in that, and we're going to ask for more in the off-season when it's not as much about football as it is about life lessons, ministering to the kids.
"The thing about these guys is they've been here all summer and are really interacting with the kids. They have the same philosophy of champions in life and using football as a vehicle."
The Patriots have gone from 3-8 in Metzger's first year to 7-5 in 2008, and 10-3 in 2009.
The first day of official practice for the 2010 season is Monday, August 2. The first regular season game is at home against Enloe on August 20.
The varsity staff also coaches the junior varsity team. Helping provide the building blocks for future success at the varsity level are the freshmen coaches. Mike Francis is back as the head coach. Returning assistants include Jim Byrd, Steve Knopfke, Ronshau Cole, George Outlaw and Steve Craven. Kevin Bean, a member of the 2009 squad, is a new addition.
More like this story