Vaught's Views: Stonebraker says Garrard County 'best place for me'

January 16, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

The more he thought about what he liked about Garrard County, the more Steve Stonebraker knew there was no reason for him to go to Russellville to interview for the head football coaching vacancy there.

That's why Stonebraker, who is 20-13 in his three years at Garrard, canceled his scheduled interview this weekend at Russellville.

"After more reflection and some talking with a few more people, I have decided that this is the best place for me right now. The commitment from my principal and some people in the community is good enough to keep me here," said Stonebraker.

That's good news for Garrard. Stonebraker's team went 9-3 in 2003 and might have done even better if starting quarterback Spencer Crutchfield had not gone down with a knee injury midway through the season.

Stonebraker has a contagious enthusiasm that motivates players and a work ethic that gives his team a chance to always win. He's innovative on offense, and his passion for football rubs off on those who work with him and play for him.


Stonebraker not only wins on the field, but he had a study table for players last year that resulted in his team's overall grade-point average being 2.66. He also gave up his planning period to help start a weightlifting class - something most successful football schools have.

Yet he was tempted by the challenge of rebuilding Russellville, a team that won Class A state titles in 1980, '83 and '90 before managing just 21 wins over the last five years.

Plus, it was a lucrative proposal that Russellville presented to tweak Stonebraker's interest.

Russellville superintendent Kenny Stephens worked in the Valdosta (Ga.) system when that team won the 1992 USA Today high school national championship. Here are some of the things Stephens indicated he would do for Stonebraker if he came to Russellville:

* Pay the head football coach at least $10,000.

* Let the new coach bring at least two full-time assistants into the program.

* Give the head coach an annual budget from the school that would exceed $20,000.

* Start a weightlifting class at the high school and middle school.

* Resurface the game field.

If Class A Russellville is willing to do that to try to get its program competitive with regional rival Mayfield, maybe Lincoln County should take notice as it continues its search for a new head coach.

After all, the Patriots have to play in the same Class AAA district with Boyle County, which may have the best overall program in the state today when one takes into account coaching salaries, staff size, budget, facilities and talent.

Lincoln athletics director Don Story said a new salary scale for all Lincoln coaches is being put together, and that has slowed the football coaching search some. However, he said Lincoln has some "good names" interested in the job and that the search should intensify in February.

Garrard won't have to go through that process now.

"It would have been very difficult to leave my players at Garrard and a principal (Kevin Stull) that I love to work for," Stonebraker said. "But there are things that come up in coaching that are worth your time to look into and I think this was one that certainly qualified.

"I have had various (job) inquiries over the past three years, but this is the first time I had ever responded to anything that had been proposed. I felt I needed to check into it because of the situation and the perceived level of commitment to winning at Russellville. But I was not looking to leave, and I've just decided the best thing for me is to not even go to the interview."

Instead, he'll keep working to get his team ready to open its 2004 season Aug. 21 against Danville in the Bob Allen Pigskin Classic and make another bid for a Class AA regional championship.

Stonebraker is one of the state's rising young coaches. Russellville would have been lucky to get him, and Garrard certainly is fortunate to keep him because not only does he want to win, but he knows how to win and what it takes to win.

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