After an exhaustive search to find the right coach to lead the Mustang football program into the future, Iola turned to a familiar face.
On Monday, defensive coordinator David Daugharthy was named head coach of the Mustangs and the team themselves couldn’t be happier.
“We were definitely excited about it,” Iola senior Isaac Vink said. “There will be some changes for sure, but just knowing Daugharthy and knowing what he is going to expect from us is going to be really fun. It is going to make our football team better.”
Cale Barnhart agrees with his fellow defensive back.
“We were hoping for him because he has been with us the last few years,” Barnhart said. “We are loyal to him and we respect him. We trust him to take the wheel.”
Daugharthy will also teach math and science at IHS, coming from a similar position at Yates Center High School.
With IHS football, he coordinated a defense that led the Mustangs to their first playoff appearance since 2008.
“Offense was Coach Kerr’s thing so he ran that and Daugharthy said. “He turned the defense over to me and Coach (Cody) Hager and let us pretty much have it.”
Daugharthy has also been the head baseball coach in Yates Center the past two years.
After the season, the program was dealt a blow when Doug Kerr opted to take the heading coaching job at Baldwin. Kerr and his former players were in agreement on who they hoped would try to build on the success Kerr had in Iola though.
Now with Daugharthy in place officially, his work begins. It is not lost on the first-time head football coach what needs to be done in the offseason in order to be successful.
“Last year we made a step and got to the first round of the playoffs, but we got annihilated,” Daugharthy said. “If we ever want to make that next step, we have to commit ourselves to the program and when we get into the weight room, we need to be working hard. We need to outwork the competition.
“Teams like Wellsville and Santa Fe Trail are the teams that put in the work during the offseason and the last few years we haven’t even come close to beating those teams. If we want to do that, we have to be as committed as they are and even more so because we have to make up for lost time.”
The defensive transition under Daugharthy should be minimal as Kerr gave Daugharthy and Hager so much control over that unit last season.
“Playing defense, you learn to love that side of the ball,” Daugharthy said. “I think we have some really talented guys and a couple of them are even looking at playing on the next level. I just think we have a solid core and we can make a big step forward. I think we can be a dominant defense.”
The offense will be more of a transition with Kerr being joined in Baldwin by former assistant coach Nick McAnulty,
To replace McAnulty and his own spot on staff, Daugharthy and Iola have brought in Daniel Vaughan, who will also teach PE at the high school, and they will transition David’s brother, Dana Daugharthy from the cross country staff to football full-time.
While Dana Daugharthy assisted Marv Smith with the cross-county team last season, he also helped with the football team. Daugharthy is the head track and field coach as well.
The highest profile loss on offense from a year ago is the graduation of starting quarterback Ben Cooper. David Daugharthy hopes to discover Cooper’s replacement during the preseason.
“I don’t know if we have a quarterback that will be able to throw the ball much, so we will probably be a ground-and-pound team,” Daugharthy said. “This offseason, we are really going to try a find a quarterback that can throw the ball a little bit.”
Daugharthy hosted a meeting last week after school to lay out his expectations for next season’s team.
“I laid out what our offseason plan in going to be,” Daugharthy said. “I explained the purpose of why we lift weights in the offseason. It is to build character, team commodity and commitment to the program.”
Daugharthy says the offseason work is the biggest area of change he hopes to influence this season and if they put in the work, he believes his team can complete at an elite level.
“Football and life in general is never about being complacent with where you are,” Daugharthy said. “Simply put, I didn’t think we were fully dedicated in the offseason last year and we went to the playoffs. That is a good step, but high expectations are possible if we commit ourselves.”
The team and Daugharthy’s senior class are ready for that next step.
“The goal is to win a playoff game next year,” Barnhart said. “The expectation should be to make the playoffs again.”
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