After a little more than a month without a head football coach, the Miller football program now has its man to lead them into the future, as Jeremy Reed was officially named the new head football coach at the YPS school board meeting on January 9.
I said going into the search that the upcoming hire would be one of the most important in Yukon sports history because in a community like Yukon, the success of the football team can really change the pulse of a town.
The Yukon Public Schools administration and athletic director Mike Clark have hit a homerun with Reed. Yes, Reed has had a ton of success on the field with a Class 5A state championship in 2015 with Altus and experience in the top-level of high school football in Arkansas, but that isn’t the main reason this hire by Yukon was a banner moment in Miller sports history.
Reed is going to change the culture of Yukon football. The Millers have not been a good football program in a long time. Yes, they have had a few winning seasons and have even gone to the playoffs a couple of times but does that qualify as a strong football program? Simple answer, no.
Yukon has not won a single playoff game since they made their state championship game run in 1997. That is 19 years without a postseason victory for the Millers.
Yes, Yukon’s football facilities are arguably the best in the state of Oklahoma. I mean every time I am driving down Ranchwood Blvd. or Yukon Parkway, I still get goosebumps just looking at Miller Stadium and the palace that the great citizens of Yukon built with their tax dollars.
But does having world-class facilities mean having success? Obviously not. Yukon has gone a combined 2-18 over the past two seasons and 0-10 this past year. What exactly does the culture of a high school program mean?
Let me paint you a picture.
A small town on the southwest corner of Tulsa, called Jenks is a small community with a large school district. Sound familiar? Jenks did not have near the resources Yukon has today in the mid 90’s and their high school football team was always “pretty good” but they never could get over the hump of being elite.
They hired a young coach named Allan Trimble before the 1996 season, who brought a different style of coaching to his players and to his coaching staff. It wasn’t the “in your face, cussing you out” style of coaching that we see so often around high school football.
Trimble brought a softer, yet more successful approach with his players. He got to know his players on a personal level and made his players feel like they were a huge part of the team whether they were the starting quarterback or a third-team defensive back. He made his players believe in themselves and believe in earning everything you receive.
Since Trimble arrived at Jenks in 1996, the Trojans have won 13 state championships in Class 6A and Class 6A-1. They are the most dominant high school football program in the state and one of the most dominant in the country.
Did Jenks have the world-class facilities in the mid-90’s when they winning started? No. Having facilities doesn’t create culture, changing the mindset of each player in the program is what changes the culture.
When I spoke to Jeremy Reed last week on the phone following his hiring, even after a few minutes on the phone, I knew Yukon had found a special coach. Reed has similar qualities to Trimble but the most important quality is not his schemes or strategies on Friday nights, it’s his understanding that in order to be successful on the field, you must first be successful off the field, and that starts with culture.
Reed shared his personal purpose statement when it comes to coaching with me during that phone call.
“To give coaches, players and the community hope through motivation, leadership and vision.”
Well done Yukon, well done.