Sideline Pass: Jim Bradford 2/9
By Jim Bradford PrepsKC Senior Writer
They say you can’t come home again?
Don’t tell that to Gene Wier. The architect of the most successful run in Kansas high school football history is back home.
Before heading to Texas, Wier led the Eagles to six state titles in seven seasons from 1996 to 2002. During that time, the Eagles went 78-4.
Wier spent the last nine years as head coach and athletic director at Richland High School in Texas and compiled a 42-51 record in nine seasons, including a 4-6 finish last fall.
But Wier is home now, back home where he helped make Olathe the City of Champions. He coached five Simone Award winners — including three straight from 2000-2002. You may be familiar with one of those Simone winners — some guy named Darren Sproles.
Under Wier, the Eagles were the most feared team in the state. There were the Simone Award winners, the all-state players and some of the finest that Olathe has seen, but there were also some not-so-good teams that still found ways to win. Even members of some of those state title teams will tell you that they weren’t the best team in the state — or maybe even in Olathe. But they found ways to win. North was good for two or three wins a year because of the name on the front of their jersey, not the names on the roster.
While the Eagles enjoyed continued success in nine years Wier was gone, they did post their first losing season in the program’s history in 2006 and after a 5-0 start last fall, they limped home with a 5-4 record, matching the second worst finish in school’s history.
Sure, there were plenty of good times from 2003 to 2011, but, obviously, there were some bad times, too.
Undoubtedly, North faithful are hoping Wier is able to bring back the mystique to North. Even though North won two state titles and finished second twice in his absence, the unbelievable consistency was gone.
After going 5-4 in his first year, Wier never won fewer than six games and he won an amazing 119 of the final 130 games he coached at North.
Wier returns to take over for Pete Flood, who played quarterback for Wier’s 1984 squad. Flood went 51-16 and led the Eagles to the state title in 2009 and a runner-up finish in 2010, but resigned to spend more time with his family.
Wier has proven that you can come home again. Now let’s see if he can bring that unmatched consistency back as well. It may be a tough task. Maybe even tougher than it was when he took over the Olathe North program in 1981 when Olathe High School split and Olathe South opened its doors.
The Eagles aren’t the only game in town anymore. When Wier left, the only other Olathe team that had even been to a state title game was Olathe South in 1999. Now, South is the defending Class 6A state champion and has two other state title game appearances. Olathe East advanced to the state title game in 2005 and even Olathe Northwest has shown flashes, beating North twice in the last six years.
Things might get interesting in Olathe next fall.
Jim Bradford is a senior writer for PrepsKC.
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