Coach Profile: Ray-Pec's Tom Kruse 7/19
By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
It’s never easy being the head coach at the high school you attended. Some don’t want that type of pressure while others never get out of the shadow of a previous coach.
For Raymore-Peculiar’s Tom Kruse coaching at home has been perfect. Kruse graduated from Ray-Pec where he was a standout quarterback and after playing college football at Northwest Missouri State University and a few stops as an assistant coach Kruse returned to the Panthers in 2000.
In just three seasons Kruse had Ray-Pec in the Class 5 state championship game and just four seasons after that Ray-Pec had won three straight Class 5 titles and were one of the top programs in the state. The Panthers are now in Class 6 and Kruse had them in the playoffs in their first year with the big boys.
As Kruse enters his 12th season at his alma mater he couldn’t be happier to be coaching the Panthers.
“It was pretty special to come back,” Kruse said. “The opportunity to walk the same halls, even though the high school that I went to is a little bit different than the one they are at now. Knowing the community and growing up there. Knowing the passion for athletics and especially for football made me very excited for the chance.”
During Kruse’s time some of the top players in the Kansas City Metro have worn the Ray-Pec black and gold. Leading the way is current Cincinnati Bengal Chase Coffman who led the Panthers to the first of the three straight state titles. Other great names were Chase’s two younger brothers Carson and Cameron along with standout running back Derrick Washington.
Kruse took over a program that had success in the past but seemed to come up short of a championship level. The Panthers are now known as one of the best football programs in the state and one of the fastest growing districts in the Metro.
“I came at the right time,” Kruse said. “We started to grow and had a good group of athletes come through with talent. We did some changing around with the coaching staff a little bit and it’s been a great move for me.”
Now that the Panthers are up in the biggest class Kruse finds himself building much like he and his staff did when he took over in 2000.
“When we jumped to Class 6 we knew what that was going to look like,” Kruse said. “We also know too that we had to change some of our mindset and some of the offseason stuff that we are doing and how we approach things. When you get into Class 6 you know to get out of here you are going to have to beat the Rockhurst, the Blue Springs the Blue Springs South.
“We know it’s still an uphill battle for us. We are building in that direction and we know we can’t do what other groups have done and that has changed our mentality.”
Dion Clisso is the Managing Editor of PrepsKC to reach him send e-mail to email@example.com.
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