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For the first time in Olathe East history a new football coach will be manning the sidelines this fall. The Hawks announced Thursday that Eudora coach Jesse Owen would be the second football coach in the 23-year history of the school.

Owen comes to East after one year at Eudora. Before that he was an assistant coach at rival Olathe North starting in 2003. Owen was also a player for the Eagles. As a senior Owen was a key member of the 1996 team that won the first of North’s eight state championships.

While it may seem odd for people to see Owen putting on the orange and blue of rival Olathe East he got his start as a student teacher and coach at East under Jeff Meyers in 2002.

The Hawks are coming off their first losing since 1999 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2001. There is a track record of success and Owen said he hopes to continue the strong tradition.

“Olathe East is a good football program and it always has been a good football program,” Owen said. “I plan on building the program and building on what coach Meyers did and the foundation he laid. I really had a lot of respect for him.

“I’ve had the good fortune of being around good football coaches throughout my career as a player and a coach. Coach Meyers actually gave me an opportunity to student teach and student coach with him in 2002. To have the opportunity to come back there and lead that program is a special opportunity for me.”

Owen was only at Eudora for one year but he said he gained a lot of knowledge in that time.

“You understand the bigger picture much better when you are in that seat,” Owen said. “I think as an assistant coach sometimes you think you have all the answers when you don’t have to make those decisions. It’s a little different when every decision hinges on you.

“It’s all unfolded in the last eight months. Going to a new program, getting together with a new staff and having player meetings, that’s all very relevant because I did it a few months ago. I think it will be a really smooth transition.”