By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Jeff Myers knows the pain of Bud Grant and Marv Levy, Pro Football Hall of Fame coaches who are better known for losing four Super Bowls.
This past season Myers took Kingfisher to the state finals for the fourth time in his nine-year tenure, only to lose for the fourth time — 28-21 to Blanchard.
For his efforts, though, he was voted the 2012 Enid News & Eagle 11-man Northwest Oklahoma Coach of the Year by his peers.
“It’s quite an honor,’’ Myers said. “I know a lot of coaches in northwest Oklahoma that have received this that I have a lot of respect for. To be put in the same category with them, is definitely an honor.’’
Time has not taken away the frustration of the loss to Blanchard, especially since the Yellowjackets had four turnovers and 108 yards in penalties.
“I still feel we’re the better team,’’ Myers said. “I will always feel that way. We just didn’t play the type of game that we had been playing for 14 games before that.
“You can’t win games turning the ball over and you can’t win games having a lot of penalties, and we did both of them. That was very uncharacteristic of us. Unfortunately, we chose to do all those things in week 15 in the most important game of the season.’’
Luck has not been with Myers in title games. Clinton scored in the final minute and a half in 2007 to win in a game Kingfisher dominated statistically. A star-studded Heritage Hall team rallied to beat Kingfisher 28-21 in 2010.
“You have a hard time getting over those,’’ Myers said.
This one will live with Myers since for the first time, the Yellowjackets were favored.
“We felt this was the one that we let get away,’’ Myers said. “This is the one we should have had. We did some uncharacteristic things and we let it slip away. It was a big one to have to get over.’’
But for the disappointment, the silver ball is still a major accomplishment. Fifty-six teams would have traded places with Kingfisher.
“They have nothing to hang their heads about,’’ Myers said. “Things didn’t turn out the way we wanted ...but our senior group reached the state finals three of their four years. Nobody else can stay that except maybe someone who has gone to Jenks or Union. That’s unheard of in our class.’’
Consider Myers’ numbers. He’s 96-25 in nine seasons and has reached at least the semifinals seven times. His worst two seasons were 8-4 in 2005 and 9-2 in 2011.
“That’s quite an accomplishment for our kids and our program,’’ Myers said. “I would venture to say there’s not many teams in the state of Oklahoma that have done that. I’m proud of our kids. They have had a lot to live up to. They have set a precedent and it’s going to continue to keep going. Hopefully, we can get back there.’’
Myers says he thinks his luck will change some day in the finals.
“That will be a big time weight off our back when we do win it,’’ Myers said. “If we do win it sometime, all those silver balls will be a forgone conclusion.’’
Myers credits his staff — Stuart Purintun, Taylor Schwerdtfeger, Stan Blundell, Tom Arrington and Lance Hill for Kingfisher’s success.
“They all have the same desire to making sure we’re teaching it right as I do,’’ he said. “If they didn’t, we wouldn’t have been as successful as we have been. Our expectations are the same every year. Even if we lost a good senior group, we would have the same expectations for the next group ... we still would want to be playing in Week 15, that’s half the battle there.’’
Myers’ philosophy is letting his assistants coach. He’s open to suggestions, noting “this isn’t a dictatorship.’’
“That’s what I hired them for,’’ he said. “I trust every one of them. They care about kids and work at it really hard. Coach Arrington has been at Jenks when they were on their run of four or five straight state championships. He’s made comparsions of their program to ours on a smaller scale.’’
All are products of small high schools.
“A lot of great coaches are coaching at small schools,’’ Myers said. “They don’t get their due as much as the ones at the larger schools, but they are great coaches.’’
Myers’ father, Nelson, was coach at both North Enid-Carrier (now Chisholm) and Alva. He saw the negatives of coaching when his dad was forced out at Alva.
“The two most disliked people in any school system are the superintendent and the head football coach,’’ Myers said. “That’s the nature of the beast. That’s why I originally didn’t want to be a coach.’’
That changed when he played at Northwestern Oklahoma State where he was heavily influenced by then Ranger defensive coordinator Steve Lohmann.
“I got around it and it continued to grow on me,’’ Myers said. “It was something that I had a calling to do.’’
Myers paid his dues before coming to Kingfisher in 2005. He was a graduate assistant at both University of Central Oklahoma and NWOSU. He was an assistant at Woodward, Blackwell, Midwest City and Edmond Memorial. He coached for Milt Bassett on Woodward’s 1994 Class 5A state champs.
“I’ve had a lot great mentors, beginning with my dad, Milt Bassett and Steve Lohmann,’’ Myers said. “Everything that I do I’ve gotten from somebody else. I’ve taken all the things that I have liked and put it in and I’ve tweaked some other things.’’
He was a “sideline rat’’ for his dad, who is his biggest fan. Myers’ parents (mom Pat) never miss a game. Nelson still has a little coaching fire in him.
“He still offers input and suggestions,’’ Myers said. “It’s never gotten out of his blood and it never will.’’
Myers also remains close to retired Kingfisher superintendent Max Thomas, who hired Myers over several coaches with head coaching experience.
Kingfisher was coming off a state championship in 2004 under Rick Van Cleave.
“Max Thomas had a lot of faith in me,’’ Myers said. “He took a chance on me and became one of my biggest fans.’’
He is also close with Kingfisher athletic director and boys basketball coach Craig Patterson.
“We cut into his basketball season almost every year, but he loves our football program,’’ Myers said. “I know that (football success) doesn’t go over well with some football coaches very well, but I’ve gotten nothing but support from coach Patterson. I couldn’t ask for a better AD or friend. I’m been very lucky and fortunate.’’