Richard Stroud

Grove Sun

JAY – New Jay High School football coach Darrin Wegner was introduced to the public during a meet-and-greet session at the Student Center on Tuesday evening. Wegner, who was the head coach at Arkansas City, Kansas High School for the past five seasons, expressed his excitement and his priorities during a brief speech to a crowd of approximately 60 parents and students.

“We’re really excited about being here,” Wegner said. “I’ve had some sleepless nights because I’m anxious to get here, anxious to get rolling.”

Wegner is replacing former coach Shane Holland, who resigned from the position following a 3-7 record in 2010, one season after leading the Bulldogs to the District 4A-3 title. Wegner, who was an assistant at Lawrence High School in Lawrence High School from 2001-2005, compiled a 14-31 record during his time at Arkansas City.

“He has lots of experience,” Jay High School principal and athletic director James Bryant told The Grove Sun on Monday. “What’s most exciting for us is that he is a great communicator and motivator. He’s very good at establishing relationships with parents and people in the community.”

Wegner stressed the importance of communication as well as the need to generate enthusiasm for the football program both within the community and within the student body.

“Football is a numbers game,” Wegner said. “When you talk to people, they all want to know ‘What are you going to run on offense? What are you going to do on defense?’ X’s and O’s are a part of it, but building relationships with kids, getting kids out [for the team] is key. There’s a lot of successful offenses out there, a lot of successful defenses out there, but one thing they have in common is they have a bunch of kids that work hard and get after it. That’s the kinds of thing we want to build here at Jay.”

Wegner was chosen out of approximately 60 applications for the position, according to Bryant. Out of those 60, eight were interviewed by Bryant and Superintendent Charles Thomas before two finalists were selected. The finalists were then interviewed by a community panel consisting of teachers, parents and school administrators.

“He had some early success at Arkansas City,” Bryant said. “His record didn’t show the amount of success he had. He was also part of some very successful teams at Lawrence.”

A graduate of the University of Kansas, Wegner grew up in southeast Kansas, which was one of the things that attracted him to the position at Jay.

“My parents are about an hour and a half from Jay, so this isn’t far from home,” Wegner told The Grove Sun after his speech. “I went to a high school about this size. And I love this area. I think it’s a great spot to raise a family.”

Wegner also had a desire to work in Oklahoma.

“I was anxious to get out of Kansas and into Oklahoma. There’s more opportunity to coach your kids in Oklahoma. Kansas has a lot of rules and restrictions like there’s no spring practice and things of that nature.”

Wegner hopes to be settled into his position in Jay by May, and he’s already setting priorities for the spring and summer.

“Two of the biggest things we need to commit to are first we need to increase the numbers in the program. My goal is to have 60-70 kids sophomores through seniors. The second thing is we have to make a commitment to the weight room. We have to get stronger. If you want to compete with the best teams in the district you have to be more physical.”

Wegner has run a spread offense in the past with an emphasis on the triple option, but much of what he does will be based on personnel.

“Our goal is to be multiple on offense and defense. Some of the schemes we run will be based on the kids we have.”

Wegner will have his first chance to see what he has when the Bulldogs open spring practice on May 9.