A new mindset comes to Leavenworth
By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
The last game Kevin Kopecky coached was a tough 38-0 defeat at the hands of Hutchinson in the Kansas Class 5A title game in November 2008. The next game he coaches will be the first as the head coach of a struggling Leavenworth, Kan. program that finished the 2009 season at 0-9 while scoring only 21 points.
Coming off of a tough stretch of games like the 2009 season it might seem like to daunting of a task for a coach used to winning like Kopecky. The opposite has happened for the veteran coach who stepped down from Class 5A power St. Thomas Aquinas before last season due to health reasons. Kopecky is excited and ready for the challenge to lead the Pioneers back to respectability.
“I’ve talked to the kids about not looking back,” Kopecky said. “I have a saying that says you need to look out the windshield and not the rearview mirror and that is what I have tried to stress. You have to look forward, the past is the past. I think the kids are really buying into it and they have worked really hard this spring.”
Leavenworth is definitely a place that needs some new blood and Kopecky is looking to be the heart that pumps that blood. In his 12 years at Aquinas he built the Saints into one of the top Kansas 5A teams in the Kansas City Metro with four straight semifinal appearances from 2004-2007 followed by a trip to the state title game in 2008.
Kopecky said one way thing that needs to change is the mindset and that starts with the players.
“We need to get people excited about Leavenworth football,” Kopecky said. “We need to have everyone in the school excited about the games on Friday night. That comes with hard work and earning back that respect. You have to build a culture of winning and that starts with the effort level.”
One way to cash in on that effort level is to play aggressive defense and that is the first part of Kopecky’s plan. He wants to establish the Pioneers as a strong defensive team and really make it hard for teams to move the ball and score each week.
“I have a pretty aggressive scheme,” Kopecky said. “It is aggressive but the kids can understand it. I don’t want to try to confuse kids. The longer you coach you figure out it is a pretty simple game when you make sure your kids understand what you want to do. You can draw it up all you want, but it doesn’t mean anything if the kids don’t know what they are doing.”
Dion Clisso is the Managing Editor of PrepsKC. To reach Dion send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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