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Holcomb's Johnson resigns post as head football coach

Published 5/27/2014

By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

His family, close friends and colleagues at Holcomb High School have known for some time that Jerry Johnson has wanted to curtail his head coaching duties for the Longhorns.

He had already cut back from middle school coaching positions in track and basketball in recent years, so when the opportunity came up to step down as the head football coach as well, Johnson took the time to ponder the career move and then decided.

"Basically, when I took over the athletic/activities director duties a couple of years ago fully, I knew I had my hands more than full," Johnson said Tuesday in a telephone interview several hours after the USD 463 school board voted to approve his resignation from the football coaching position, and the hiring of Goodland football coach Kent Teeter as his replacement. "I thought I did both jobs decently, but I don't think I did either of them really good. I had a hard time looking the kids in the eye and feeling like I was giving them all they needed."

Johnson will retain his athletic/activities director duties, as well as his position as the at-risk program coordinator at the high school.

"The other part of this is that I've got five young children who are getting older, and if I want to have a chance to watch them in their activities, then I can't do everything," Johnson said. "The only way this was going to happen is if the district had an opening for a physical education teacher, and that's what allowed this to happen."

When Dawn Tucker recently was approved to be the half-time principal at Holcomb Middle School and Holcomb Elementary School, while retaining her half-time middle school athletic director duties, a P.E. position at the middle school was available. And that's where Teeter will fit into the district staff.

Johnson had a highly-successful tenure as the Longhorns' football coach, posting a 56-25 record (.691) in seven seasons. His team posted an 8-3 record in 2013, advancing to the Class 3A playoffs' second round.

While he is stepping down as the head coach, Johnson will remain as an assistant to Teeter, with overall coaching staff positions still to be determined and approved at the June 9 board meeting.

In the meantime, Teeter, who also is the head track coach at Goodland, will be coaching his Cowboys this weekend at the state track meet, where his 17-year-old sophomore son, Trey, will compete in the Class 4A javelin. Trey also was the starting quarterback for the Cowboys. He also plays basketball.

"Since I've been here, Jerry and I have had discussions about finding that opportunity where somebody could come in and take the football position," said HHS Principal Rob Schneeberger. "We wanted to find a suitable coach with experience who could come in and work with the previous head coach who wanted to remain in the program."

Teeter fit the bill perfectly, and the new Longhorns' gridiron boss agreed with that assessment in a Tuesday afternoon telephone interview.

"I've gotten to know him over the past several years," Teeter said of Johnson. "I have a ton of respect for him and all the sports at Holcomb. If it's ok with everybody, I think it's a cool and neat thing to have him on the staff. Why wouldn't I want somebody with his experience and expertise."

Another reason for Teeter to move from 4A Goodland to 3A Holcomb is the fact that his wife, Dixie, is a Garden City High School graduate. Her brother, Todd Tichenor, lives in Holcomb and is a Major League Baseball umpire.

"Certainly moving close to where family is was a factor in our decision," Teeter said. "It was a family decision, and there are a lot of good things about it. I'm excited about the kids they have. We've played Holcomb every year and they have quality coaches and quality kids."

Teeter said that he will quickly conclude his Goodland track coaching duties and head to Holcomb at the start of next week when summer football camp starts for the Longhorns.

"There won't be much down time, and there will be several trips back and forth, but I can't wait to get started," Teeter said.

Teeter, 50, is a Lyons native, and he then attended East Central, Okla. Colege for a year and a half before transferring to Bethany College in Lindsborg, where he played both football and ran track. He earned his bachelor's degree in physical education from Bethany.

Johnson had high praise of his incoming successor.

"I feel really good about Kent coming in," Johnson said. "He's a great coach who cares about the kids, and he shares the same philosophy as we do about the kids. So I can't wait to see him get here and get things moving forward."

Teeter's first coaching experience came at Great Bend High School, where he served as an assistant to then Panther head coach Bo Black for five years while also coaching track. He moved north to Hays High, where he was an assistant before moving up to the head football coach position for eight years and head track coach for 11 years. He has been in Goodland for the past five seasons. His Cowboys were 6-4 during the 2013 season, falling to Abilene in the opening round of the 4A playoffs.

In addition to his son Trey, Teeter and his wife have one daughter, Teryn, 13, who will be a seventh grader in the fall.

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