Metzinger to lead HHS football

Devin Metzinger will have a busy summer as he prepares for his first year as head football coach and math instructor at Hillsboro High School, attends Project Lead the Way training and anticipates his marriage to fiancée Madison—all in the next few weeks. It may be appropriate that as Devin Metzinger steps into his first job as a high school head football coach, he inherits a Hillsboro High School team that depended largely on a cluster of untested freshmen and sophomores to carry the freight.

The season ended with an 0-9 record, but Metzinger is intent on using the challenges of last season as a catalyst for a competitive team this fall.

“One thing that was surprising to me was that there were no seniors,” he said. “Looking back at last year, that’s not great because you have a lot of inexperience on the field, and kids who were playing as freshmen when they probably wouldn’t have played until they were sophomores or juniors.”

But Metzinger sees a positive on the flip side.

“It’s good for us this year because now all those kids have experience,” he said. “I have sophomores who already have the experience they would normally get this year. I have juniors who already have one or two years of playing time.

“We don’t have to worry about the shock and the awe of being under the lights on Friday night. That’s a big plus for us.”

Path to Hillsboro

Metzinger, 24, grew up on a hog and cattle farm near Arkansas City, but had a passion for athletics even as a boy.

“I played just about every sport I could growing up,” he said. “In high school I finally narrowed it down to football and track.”

Metzinger played well enough on the offensive and defensive line that South­wes­tern College in nearby Winfield offered Metzinger a football scholarship. He ended up playing on the defensive line all four years as a Mound­builder.

After graduating from Southwestern in 2014 with a degree in mathematics, he accepted a teaching and coaching role at Bluestem High School, assisting with both football and track and field.

Trojan assignment

Metzinger accepted the teaching and coaching position that opened at Hillsboro when Lance Sawyer accepted similar roles at his hometown high school in Inman.

In addition to math classes, Metzinger will teach in the Project Lead the Way program at HHS.

“When I applied for the job, I had seen it but had no idea what it meant,” he said about PLTW. “Then, when I got here, through the course of my interview, it was explained to me and made the job all the more enticing and exciting.

“It’s a new adventure,” he added. “It’s something you don’t find in every school district around. I’m very excited for it—probably just as excited for the football season as I am for PLTW.”

Enthusiasm for football

Metzinger said he’s pleased with the interest in football he’s seen among students at Hillsboro.

“We’ve had a good turn­out so far,” he said. “We had a team meeting back in April and I want to say we were upper 30s in attendance. That was exciting for me.

“Then we had our first day of summer weights on Memorial Day. My expectations weren’t very high with it being Memorial Day, but we had close to 30 football players there.

“That’s a testament to them, because that’s unheard of in a lot of places, especially for a school this size.”

Metzinger’s first football camp is underway this week, and he’s eager to build upon what he saw during intra-squad seven-on-seven workouts earlier this spring.

“We’re going to go and compete against some other teams here in the next few weeks, so we’ll really get to see then,” he said. “But just from the few times out on the field we’ve had, we have people in skill positions where we’re one, two, maybe even three deep in places.

“As far as staying fresh on Friday night, we should have no trouble there. We’ve got depth, we have guys who can get in and get some playing time for us.”

Metzinger knows positive first impressions don’t necessary translate into wins on the field, but he likes what he’s seen to this point.

“I really can’t think of any negatives right now,” he said. “When I’ve talked to the kids about this, we look at it as day-by-day journey. Today we have to be better than we were yesterday, and tomorrow we have to be better than we were today.

“Obviously, we were an 0-9 team and we haven’t done anything on the field to change that yet,” Metzinger added. “But day by day, if we get better, then we’re setting here in November, hopefully still playing. If nothing less, we’ll be better than we are now.”

Broader aspirations

Beyond wins and losses, Metzinger has broader aspirations for his football program.

“Most of these kids probably only have four years of football at this level of competition, so we’re gong to really try to instill values into their life while we can,” he said.

“I think football teaches so many great life values, and skill sets for life—not that you can’t get them in other sports, but you don’t get them in the same way as you do in football,” he said. “For us as a coaching staff, that’s something we’re going to focus on this year.”

Metzinger said his players should expect some unique components to the program.

“We’re going to do some things maybe some programs don’t do on a daily basis,” he said. “We’re going to make a daily aspect of our time together to make sure that when those kids leave in two to four years, or even one year if that’s all they’re here for, then they go forward having those values.”

Metzinger said he wants those values to be visible in the broader community, too.

“I’m not sure what has gone on in the past, but we’re going to try to put together a couple of community service projects,” he said. “It might be high hopes, but we’re going to try to do two service projects and get at least one in.”

Busy summer

Beyond adjusting to his new role and location, Met­zinger will be attending PLTW training and is looking forward to marrying his fiancée, Madison, who graduated from Southwest­ern this spring and plans to attend Kansas State Univer­sity this fall.

“We grew up nine miles away from each other and didn’t know each other (until they met at Southwestern),” he said.

Metzinger said he’s ready for a busy summer.

“The community has been very helpful,” he said. “My fiancée and I showed up here in April looking for a house, and everybody’s been extremely helpful and made it as smooth as possible.”

Metzinger said he hopes the community’s support will extend to his football team this fall.

“Probably the biggest thing you notice about small towns is the community support that the football team gets,” he said.

“You can talk about bigger schools and bigger places, where you have four high schools in one town. Here you have one team in one town. Go out and support it. We would really appreciate it.”

Written By
More from Don Ratzlaff
Hillsboro?baseball splits with Lyons
One rocky inning proved to be the difference as Hills?boro dropped a...
Read More