View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 1/25

Dion Clisso

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: January 25, 2011 - 11:56 AM



Few coaches have had a debut season like Blue Valley’s Eric Driskell. The first-year head coach took over for Steve Rampy and promptly guided the Tigers to the Class 5A title.

Blue Valley only lost one game in the regular season to Gardner-Edgerton but it was able to avenge that loss in the semifinals on the way to the title.

It was one of the most compelling stories of the year and netted Driskell several coaching honors along the way. He earned the Metro Sports Kansas Coach of the Year award along with being named the top coach in Class 5A by the Kansas coaches association.

Driskell’s experience as a player, assistant coach and now head coach is tough to match. He won a state title as a player, several as an assistant coach and now one as a head coach. That isn’t easy to do. Many people will go their whole lives in football and never even play for a championship, Driskell seems to be there all the time.

If anyone thought there wouldn’t be a smooth transition when Rampy left they were mistaken. Driskell took over a talented staff and seemed to do so without any ego. When I first met Driskell it was during practice on a rainy afternoon in September. They were focusing on defense that day so he came over and talked to me for quite a while.

That made an instant impression on me. Here is a first-year coach with enough confidence to let his assistants do their job and run their portion of the practice while he went over and talked to a reporter he didn’t know.

It would have been real easy to come in and micromanage the staff and team in his first year. It would have been easy to want to change how things were done before to put your own stamp on things. Driskell resisted the urge to do both and it paid off.

The Tigers were coming off of a season where they didn’t play well in the regular season but caught fire in the 6A playoffs. Blue Valley went in to the post season with a losing record but found a way to win its next two games and give eventual champion Olathe North all it wanted in the semifinals.

The Tigers used that late season surge to motivate them this year. When I talked to standout players Ian Allen and Hayden Murray they both said the team was more focused to start the 2010 season then they were in 2009.

Give credit to Driskell and his staff for that focus. Also give credit to coming back to beat the team everyone thought was a shoe in to win the 5A title, Gardner-Edgerton, in the playoffs and then win the state title.

It was a great first year. Now all they have to do is win it again. I hope the fans of Blue Valley will understand how hard it is to win state titles and take it easy on Driskell and his staff if they don’t win it all next season. Driskell had a great first year hopefully everyone will cut him some slack if every year isn’t like this one.

Dion Clisso is the Managing Editor of PrepsKC. To reach him send e-mail to dion@prepskc.com.