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Do Things the Right Way

July 21, 2021 - 00:00
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Secret to success simple for soon-to-be hall of fame coach Jeff Myers

  • Do Things the Right Way
  • Do Things the Right Way
    Kingfisher head football coach Jeff Myers, center at right, will be inducted this weekend into the OCA Hall of Fame. Among his accomplishments was coaching the West squad to victory in the 2020 OFBCA All-State game last year in a game that his son, Riley,

Do things the right way.

Even before he became the winningest football coach in Kingfisher High School history, Jeff Myers lived that creed.

Whether as a high school or college player, a graduate assistant coach, a rookie assistant, a coordinator or, eventually, a head coach, Myers preached it and practiced it himself.

Prepare. Work hard. Be structured. Be focused. Expect to be great.

Those traits were part of what led Myers to one of the highest honors a coach in Oklahoma can receive.

He will be one of 10 inductees Saturday night into the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Former Okarche superintendent and current Kingfisher resident David Glover, former longtime Okarche boys basketball coach, the late Ray West and seven others will join Myers in being inducted at 6:30 p.m. at the Southern Hills Marriott in Tulsa.

The numbers alone as a head coach warrant Myers being inducted this weekend.

Since coming to Kingfisher prior r to the 2004 season, the Yellowjacketset have gone 170-53 and have reached the playoffs in each of his 17 seasons.

His teams have reached at least the semifinal round 10 times and have played in five state championship games.

The 2013 KHS squad went 15-0 under Myers and won the program’s second-ever ev state championship.

His record includes a 40-16 mark in the playoffs. Myers accounts for all but 14 of Kingfisher’s 54 playoff wins overall.l.

“I think his record speaks for itself,” said former KHS boys basketball coach and athletic director Craig Patterson, himself a member of the OCA Hall of Fame.

“In his time at Kingfisher, Jeff has been as successful as any football coach in the state.”

What’s been behind Myers’ level of consistency and success?

“I’ve been able to hire good people and had great kids at Kingfisher,” Myers said. “They bought into what we were wanting to do and we’ve been fortunate to have that translate on the field.”

What Myers is selling and what players and assistants are buying into was engrained in him from an early age.

The seeds of success were planted long before he knew it.

His own father, Nelson Myers, was a former coach, including a one-time KHS head coach.

“I was around coaching my entire life,” Jeff said. “All of my family was big into sports, so I was brought up around it.”

Nelson Myers was Jeff’s greatest influence, but another coach played a huge role into his eventual career path.

Jeff Lohmann coached Myers both in high school and then eventually at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. All told, Myers was a student under Lohmann for nine straight years.

“His passion for the game and how he was a student of it really inspired me,” Myers said.

Lohmann could see the traits in Myers the player that would lead to Myers the coach being a success.

“Jeff was a great linebacker and was the kind of player who wanted to get better. He was always a student of the game,” Lohmann said. “I assure you when he was on the field, I always knew our defense would be lined up correctly and would know what was coming at them.”

Myers wasn’t just someone who could produce numbers for the Goldbugs and Rangers. There was more.

“He possessed great instincts,” Lohmann said. “But he also had great work ethic and leadership skills.”

After his playing days ended in 1989, Myers worked as a graduate assistant at both the University of Central Oklahoma and NWOSU before eventually truly following his father’s footsteps and becoming a high school coach.

He joined the Woodward staff under his father-in-law Milt Bassett in 1993. The Boomers won a state title in 1994.

“I was just trying to soak up as much about the game and managing a football team as I could,” Myers said.

He got his first taste as a defensive coordinator at Blackwell in 1996. A short stint there led to higher-profile positions at Midwest City and Edmond Memorial.

“As I took on more responsibility as a coordinator, I knew I wanted to eventually become a head coach,” Myers said.

“I wanted to do things ‘my way’ and just see if I was going to be any good at it.”

His opportunity came in the spring of 2004.

Kingfisher was coming off its most historic season ever.

Rick VanCleave led the Jackets to the 2003 state title, but stepped down after the season.

With standouts like Curtis Lofton, Casey Lynn and Ryan Jech returning, Kingfisher was a sought-after job.

Myers was tasked with building on the foundation that had been laid.

His first KHS team went undefeated in the regular season and reached the 2004 semifinals.

The Jackets went back to the semifinals in 2006 and then then reached the 2007 3A state title game.

The Kingfisher football program only grew stronger.

“I wanted to put Kingfisher football up there in the same league as some of the great ones around the state regardless of class,” Myers said.

“And I really wanted my peers to respect the job we did as a program.”

KHS won at least one playoff game from 2001 through 2014. The 14-year streak - 11 with Myers as the head coach - was the longest in Oklahoma before it ended.

Longer than Jenks. Longer than Union. Longer than Davis. Longer than Heritage Hall. Longer than any other program.

After claiming the runner-up trophy in 2007, KHS got back to the semifinals in 2008.

The Jackets were again state runners-up in 2009 and 2010 and they lost to Lincoln Christian and Heritage Hall, respectively, in state title games.

The Heritage Hall squad featured the son of Barry Sanders and a future NFL player in Sterling Shepard.

The Chargers beat KHS 42-10 in the regular season finale before Kingfisher stormed through the playoffs and made them fight from behind to win 28-21 in the championship tilt.

The Jackets beat Heritage Hall soundly in both 2012 and 2013. The 35-0 victory at Heritage Hall during the 2013 campaign was Myers’ 100th as a head coach.

“Jeff and Kingfisher have always been one of our toughest opponents,” said Andy Bogert, Heritage Hall’s head coach at that time. He’s now on the Charger staff while his son, Brett Bogert, serves as head coach.

The Chargers have won six state titles since 2008, many with Kingfisher in their district.

“You always know that they will be prepared for you,” Bogert added of Kingfisher and Myers.

“There are not many out there that put the time it takes to be outstanding in our business. Jeff is one of them and congrats to him.”

The Kingfisher football program was at its peak in 2012 and 2013.

The Jackets went 29-1 and reached the 3A state title game both years.

Grant Newton was the starting quarterback on the 2012 team that went 14-1 and lost to Blanchard in the championship game at Boone Pickens Stadium on the Oklahoma State University campus in Stillwater.

Newton graduated from KHS in 2013, then earned a finance degree from OSU in 2017.

He followed that up with a juris doctor degree from Vanderbilt law school in 2020.

Newton is now a judicial law clerk to U.S. District Judge David L. Russell in the Western District of Oklahoma.

“Other than my dad, I can’t recall any individual who showed me the value of hard work and discipline like Coach Myers did,” Newton said.

“He displayed how structure, consistency and focus lead to success - both on and off the field.”

As he was coming up through the junior high program, Jace Sternberger thought he was going to be a quarterback.

As he got to the high school level, Myers and the staff moved him to defensive end and tight end.

At the time, Sternberger wasn’t exactly happy with the coaches’ decision.

However, he was one of the biggest factors in Kingfisher’s run to a 15-0 record and win over Blanchard to win the 2013 Class 3A state championship.

Sternberger eventually signed a Division I scholarship, became an All-American tight end at Texas A&M in 2018 and is preparing for his third season with the Green Bay Packers.

“He told you the truth, even when you didn’t want to hear it,” said Sternberger, recalling the conversation of his position change.

“But he always wanted you to be the best version of yourself without being selfish. He also always had your back and taught you how important it was to have team chemistry.”

Team chemistry is just one of the lessons Landon Nault pulled from his playing days for Myers.

Nobody played in, started in or won more games for Myers than Nault, whose career stretched from 2010-13.

During that run, KHS went 48-7 and played in three state championship games.

Nault graduated as the schools all-time leader in rushing yards and touchdowns scored. He was also a part of more wins than any Yellowjacket before or since.

“I feel there’s a lot of things football can teach you about life, whether it be working as a team to achieve a common goal, teaching dedication, what it means to be disciplined, accountability, the list goes on and on and I think that’s what makes it the greatest game in the world,” Nault said.

“I am very fortunate that I got to have Coach Myers as my coach as I grew to love this game because I think he embodies perfectly those exact characteristics and makes sure you understand exactly what they mean.”

Myers coaches hard, whether you’re a third-string safety or the most decorated player in KHS history.

“He held all of us to an extremely high standard, so in my mind there was never a question on how hard I would work each day,” Nault said. “I knew what was expected of me and I knew that if I didn’t reach that expectation I would hear about it.”

That followed Nault to his playing days at Emporia State University and even now.

“Moving forward, even in college, I carried that mindset and expectation of myself of never giving less than my very best,” Nault said.

Nault said discipline and accountability are also big with Myers.

“We always knew what our goals were each season and we never shied away from those goals and what it would take to achieve them,” Nault said. “He made sure we, as a team, knew how much discipline it would take and the importance of making it a priority and being accountable for your teammates.”

Nault said he was better prepared at Emporia because of his KHS playing days.

“I think his high expectations of me and my teammates plus his teachings of discipline and accountability carried over to college and beyond and I feel they prepared me beyond what a majority of my college teammates were prepared for,” Nault said.

“A lot of guys didn’t come from great high school programs with great foundations and I have Coach Myers to thank for me being ready for what preparing for college football would present me with and how to face it.”

Nault graduated from Emporia in December 2019 and is set to graduate as a physician’s assistant in October from the University of Oklahoma Health and Sciences Center in October.

“These traits have translated into my professional career as well,” Nault said. “Being disciplined and dedicated to my studies in PA school have roots back to high school football as well.”

As the wins and accolades piled up, Myers remained active in his profession off the field.

“Jeff has been a mainstay in Oklahoma coaching circles,” said current Norman North head coach Justin Jones, who is also the executive director of the Oklahoma Football Coaches Association.

“He has served on both the OCA and OFBCA executive boards and continues to work hand-in-hand with all stakeholders to not only progress the game of football, but coaching in Oklahoma.”

That service, combined with coaching, continued to inspire Myers.

“When I would go to all of those hall of fame banquets and see all the great coaches going into it that I had either coached against or had worked really hard with, it started sinking in that I really wanted to be where they were some day if I did a good enough job.”

Jones said that’s been the case.

“Coach Myers has definitely left a lasting impact on our state that will endure long after he retires,” Jones said. “He definitely deserves the honor.”

Myers said he didn’t know if the day would come, but said his family, assistants and players helped guide him to Saturday’s honor.

“I’m unbelievably humbled to be in that club,” Myers said.

It’s a “club” that includes legends of the game like Joe Webber and Allan Trimble and Jim Dixon.

And, soon, Jeff Myers.

Patterson said all of Myers’ success is a result of the basic traits that are often taken for granted.

“I think it all starts with his willingness to work extremely hard and long hours. He leaves no stone unturned in his preparation and he expects the same from his assistant coaches and players,” Patterson said.

It’s been a recipe for hall of fame success.

“The consistency his teams have displayed is a direct result of him demanding they do things the right way.”