Sideline Pass: Jim Bradford 2/25
By Jim Bradford PrepsKC Senior Writer
Is it just me or does it seem like there are more coaching changes this year?
It’s no more than usual, methinks, but for some reason, this year’s crop of out with the old and in with the new is busting at the seams.
The two that really caught my attention were the changes at Shawnee Mission North and Eudora.
After nearly a decade of futility, the dean of Shawnee Mission schools — North — turned to another veteran to lead the program when they hired former Blue Valley North and Chanute head coach Don Simmons.
I say “another veteran to lead the program” because the last time North made this type of move, they embarked on one of the most successful runs in their long, storied history with veteran pass-guru Sam Brown at the helm.
Kudos to Shawnee Mission North on the latest hire. Simmons is a winner. He’s won at every stop. In this instant gratification, what have you done for me lately world we live in, it’s often forgotten how good the Blue Valley North program was in the late 90s and early 00s. While they fell victim to the dominant trio in Olathe — East, North and South — during that time, they were the cream of the EKL crop under Simmons.
He’s the shot in the arm this Indians program needs.
In Eudora, fans were a bit surprised when Greg Webb left for Truman after another stellar season and a second-straight appearance in the Class 4A state title game.
We all knew that the person who would succeed Webb would have some big shoes to fill. After all, the Cardinals — the Frontier League champ of the past two seasons — have averaged 10 wins in the past three seasons.
Enter Kevin Kopecky. Talk about another great hire of a veteran coach who knows how to win.
Eudora fans can breath easy, this hire will keep the Cardinals among the Class 4A elite.
Kopecky was a Class 5A heavy at St. Thomas Aquinas. He led the Saints to the payoffs in the last 11 of his 12 years at the helm, including four trips to the state semifinals and a runner-up finish in Class 5A in 2008.
That wasn’t it. He took over a Leavenworth program three years ago that was among the worst in Class 6A and not just lately. The Pioneers hadn’t been to the playoffs in two decades before Kopecky took them there in 2011.
One program looking to bounce back to some past glories, another trying to maintain a new-found tradition of winning have found the perfect new leaders.
Jim Bradford is a Senior Writer for PrepsKC.
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