Yoakam sets bar high for 2014 Tiger football squad

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Nevada High School head football coach Erik Yoakam believes his team has the potential to be highly competitive this fall, despite losing a number of key players from last year's squad.

After a 5-5 finish in 2013, Yoakam enters his second season as the Tigers head coach.

Prior to arriving in Nevada, Yoakam served as an assistant coach at Fort Scott High School on Bob Campbell's staff.

Yoakam also spent six years as a defensive coordinator at Leavenworth High School (Kan). Additionally, Yoakam has coached at St. Mary's Colgan High School in Pittsburg, Kan.

"As always when I go to a program my expectations are very high," Yoakam said. "Any team no matter the skill level, we have extremely high expectations. And we expect the kids to come out and work hard every day."

Yoakam said he lost nearly half of his starters from last year's team.

"We're probably returning five or six on offense and three or four on defense," he said.

Yoakam said some of the key returning offensive players include senior running backs Taylor Manes and Chance Mays, senior offensive tackles Caleb Smith and Chandler Holland, and junior tailback Chaden Brandt.

On the defensive side of the ball, Yoakam said the team returns senior linebacker Davin Weeks, and Manes ---- who on defense plays strong safety.

The Tigers currently have a position battle brewing at quarterback, after losing four-year starter Alex Payne to graduation.

During a portion of Friday morning's practice, junior Andrew Heathman was taking first team reps. However, Yoakam indicated that junior Austin Deer is also in the mix to start.

"We're currently looking at a couple of guys to play quarterback for us," Yoakam said."

This will be the Tigers inaugural season playing in the West Central Conference.

Nevada joins (Sedalia)Smith-Cotton High School, Warrensburg High School, Center High School (Kansas City), Clinton High School, St. Pius X High School (Kansas City), O'Hara High School (Kansas City).

The Tigers open their season at home against Willard High School on Aug. 22.

"Really, Willard's not on our mind," Yoakam said. "Coaching wise we're scheming it. But the kids don't really know what to expect. We don't throw too much at them too fast. In the weeks to come, we will start looking at what they do. Which, we have a good idea since we played them last year. And we'll prepare the kids at that time."

Nevada opened last season losing their first four games, before finishing on a high note by winning five of their final six games. During the winning streak, the Tigers outscored opponents 217-59.

Yoakam is a 2005 graduate of Pittsburg State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Education, with a major in physical education and a minor in special education.

He said that during the four years he spent playing for the Gorillas football team, former Nevada High School head football coach and Pittsburg State linebackers coach Larry Hurst was a significant influence in his life and "used to always say great things about the (Nevada) community."

While he didn't expound upon his coaching philosophy during Friday's practice, Yoakam said his primary coaching objective is to "mold his players into good young men."

"We want them to have fun playing football, but most importantly, I'm trying to get (them to become) good young men."

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