Jon Stockman received one of the best birthday presents of his life June 26th by the Mar-shall School Board.
The board promoted from within the district in choosing Stockman as the Owls' new varsity head football coach, re-placing Jay Eilers-- who re-signed in late May after two years on the job. Stockman has worked in the Marshall school system since 2005, having been an assistant coach six years and spending last season guiding the Bueker Middle School team.
|"It's an opportunity and challenge at the same time," said Stockman, who turned 32 years old today. "I've got to get busy, get to work."|
Stockman takes over a program which has not had a winning season, nor reached the playoffs, since 2006. The Owls were 0-10 a year ago, their first winless campaign since 1942. The roster often dipped under 40 players in 2011, with only two seniors, a trend of declining participation which had been underway for several years.
"The biggest part is recruiting," Stockman observed. "Getting kids out who need to be playing, but haven't been."
While quantity does not ne-cessarily equate to quality, the lack of depth has put Marshall into a competitive disadvantage in the NCMC and its Class 4 district. No wonder he encourages any prospective players or their parents to give him a call at (660) 886-2244.
"Numbers don't make you good, but it sure helps in getting you ready to play the schedule we play at Marshall High School," Stockman said. "It's not an easy one."
While this is Stockman's first job leading a varsity program, he comes with a strong pedigree-- beginning with his all-I-70 Conference seasons as a lineman at Class 1 power Santa Fe, which reached the Show-Me Bowl his junior year. Chiefs head coach Bill Fox was an early mentor in motivational techniques.
"He could get a kid to do anything he wanted," Stock-man marveled.
Stockman played for Dan Stanley at Missouri Valley College in Marshall, graduating in 2003 after earning all-Heart of America Conference honors at guard, and served on the staffs of Paul Troth at Valley and Rob Bowers at Richmond before being hired by Paul Thomas as the Owls' offensive line coach in 2005.
Stockman has been at Mar-shall ever since, raising 8-year-old daughter, Carleigh, with his wife, Michelle. His commitment to the community worked in his favor during the hiring process.
"He has a passion and ex-citement for Marshall," re-marked MHS Athletic Director Caleb Crawford. "Hopefully, he'll provide consistency and stability to the program for years."
Crawford also recognized that familiarity with the Owls' players and fellow coaches is a benefit.
"He has established a connection with the kids and has the support of the players," he said.
"It's an easier transition when you know the kids and they know you," Stockman agreed. At this late date, "if you had to come in and learn who all the players are, it would be a bigger challenge."
Stockman also considers himself fortunate to inherit a solid staff, men with whom he has worked before: defensive coordinator Ian Verts, backfield coach Jason Price -- who was re-hired by the Board on June 26 -- and defensive line coach Dom Giangrosso. Several other assistants were added in April, whose roles are yet to be assigned.
"Guys who are loyal and know what they're capable of," Stockman described his staff. "I don't have to micromanage."
Yet, there's plenty of work to be done. Although there is continuity on the defensive side with Verts on board, in-stalling the veer offense-- what the Owls ran during most of Thomas' years-- will require intense effort.
Although some camp dates have been set, Stockman is getting to work completing the off-season schedule in time for the start of practice in August and the Aug. 26 season opener at Chillicothe.
"Just getting everybody on the same page and working to-ward a common goal: winning football games on Friday night," Stockman said.