OBA coaching change developed by spiritual bond

Oklahoma Bible Academy football coach Jay Mendenhall. (Billy Hefton / Enid News & Eagle)

The friendship of Jay Mendenhall and Chris Cayot began more than a dozen years ago at the First Baptist Church in Fairview. That spiritual relationship the two share will grow stronger as they work together on the football staff at Oklahoma Bible Academy.

"He's the type of guy that wears his heart on his sleeve and his faith is evident," Mendenhall said of Cayot.

After spending the past three seasons as the head coach of the Trojans' program, Mendenhall will now share the duties with Cayot, who previously coached at Laverne for four years.

Cayot, who accepted his new position at OBA in mid-May, assumes the role of head coach while Mendenhall will shift to associate head coach.

"I'm not going anywhere," Mendenhall said. "My mission at OBA has not changed. I'll be just as involved. It'll just look a little different."

The idea of working together came up frequently between Mendenhall and Cayot not long after the two first met.

While Cayot was in the early parts of his 12-year stint as head football coach at Fairview he attended services at First Baptist where Mendenhall's dad, David, was the pastor.

Mendenhall, who was in seminary school at the time, visited Fairview, his hometown, every so often and attended the games on Friday and services on Sunday where he would see Cayot.

Their friendship really molded when they coached against each other once Mendenhall got a position at OBA and was an assistant on the football staff.

"I always watched his teams," Mendenhall said. "He always got the most out of his players. You notice that as a coach. You tell what type of coaches the kids want to play for."

"We're just kind of kindred souls I guess you'd say in the way we liked to coach, offense we liked to run and coaching philosophies," Cayot said. "We always kept up and always wanted to work together because of the way we think alike."

When Mendenhall became the head coach at OBA three years ago, he was unsure if he would be the long-term guy, or "a spoke in the wheel."

In addition to his coaching duties, Mendenhall teaches Bible at OBA. He's also the pastor, youth leader and music leader at his church. The workload interfered with his chances to do missionary work, especially in the summer months.

He prayed about it and asked for God to bring him help.

As Mendenhall searched for someone who could be of assistance, he texted Cayot, saying the way he carried himself would be a "good fit" with OBA's mission.

"When I started looking around to see who could come help us, I couldn't be happier that he was actually interested," Mendenhall said. "And as it all played out, it's just a perfect fit on our end."

Cayot saw the transition as an opportunity to expand his reach of preparing kids for the real world and leading them in biblical ways without the limitations of working at a public school.

"I'm not all about wins and losses and having to make a name for myself," Cayot said. "I just enjoy coaching kids. Especially enjoy kids at a place where I can be myself and let my faith shine through a little bit. And have players and coaches that challenge me and hold me accountable too. That's something I'm looking forward to."

As much as he doesn't worry about results, Cayot produced four successful seasons during his time at Laverne. He accumulated a 46-7 record and led the Tigers to a Class B State Championship in 2016. Laverne finished as the Class B runner-up in 2017 in a rematch against Shattuck.

Last season, OBA had its best season under Mendenhall, finishing with a 6-4 record after winning its first six games. In the two seasons prior, the Trojans were a combined 5-15.

Mendenhall made it a point that he doesn't want those involved in the OBA community to get the wrong impression that he is leaving. The progress made last season will not be lost.

"I plan on spending just as much time as I did on it, but some of the more administrative stuff over time I'd like to hand off," Mendenhall said.

As for Laverne, the position of head football coach is no longer vacant. Tigers' head basketball and baseball coach Tanner Woods' responsibilities will increase as he makes the jump from assistant to the man in charge of Laverne football.

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