(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Sikeston head coach Kent Gibbs was a bit worried about filling four new coaching positions coming into the 2012 football season.
And rightfully so.
Their recent success of playoff runs, undefeated seasons and record-breaking performances were an offspring of talent on the field mixed with the guys fitted with headsets on the sidelines.
"You get four openings in one year -- that's a lot," Gibbs said. "You always get a little worried when you have a big rollover in your staff."
His worries have subsided, but the excitement of taking three new faces and one veteran onto his staff has grown.
"A little bit of change sometimes isn't always so bad," he said. "You bite the nail and wonder, but it's been a good experience so far."
His four new coaches are veteran Sikeston coach Matt Johnson, Chris Lowe, Josh Hopkins and Brock Allen.
Johnson, who is now the head freshman coach as well as the varsity running backs coach, was promoted from the Bulldogs' middle school football program.
"We really felt like his time had come to move up," Gibbs said about Johnson.
A 1992 graduate of Sikeston High School, Johnson is a 1997 graduate of what is know called Missouri University of Science and Technology.
"It's been a really easy transition, especially since these are the same players I've had before," Johnson said. "A lot of these players I've had since little league. I'm excited and ready for the season to start."
Along with Johnson, an alumnus of Sikeston High School will be taking over the offensive and defensive line coaching duties.
Chris Lowe, who went on to play for the University of Missouri on a football scholarship, is the Bulldogs new lineman coach.
On top of his football duties, Lowe has also accepted the head wrestling coach position as well.
"I was fortunate enough to get on with coach Gibbs and get the head wrestling job," Lowe said. "It's very impressive what coach Gibbs and the whole staff has been able to do here. It's a great program. The kids are very respectable and I'm fortunate to be a part of it."
Lowe, who is a 1984 graduate of Sikeston High School, is entering a Bulldog regime that's quite a bit different from when he left it.
Nowadays, the Bulldogs rely on the spread offense attack, which speed and quickness are vital. Back in his playing days, Lowe remembers less finesse and more 'power football'. But, he's ready to make the adjustment as well as bring a little bit of the old school back with him.
"We grew up with what we call 'smash-mouth'," Lowe said. "We wanted to line up and hit you as hard as we can. Here, is a little more misdirection, but we're trying to get back into a little more 'smash-mouth' style. We've got a good line and a good group of kids."
Lowe had taught in Carthage for the last six years as well as been one of the football coaches.
"I want my guys to be a prideful group," said Lowe. "I want my guys to be tough and physical. I coach that way and I want them to be that way."
Although he grew up from and knows the surrounding area, Sikeston's new defensive backs coach, Josh Hopkins, has spent his post-high school days abroad.
Coaching at both Palmyra and Carrollton, Hopkins is happy to be back in southeast Missouri and associated with a program steeped in history such as Sikeston.
"It's good to be back home and in this area," Hopkins said. "I'm super excited about coaching here. I don't have to tell anybody that there's great tradition down here. The opportunity to coach with coach Gibbs is something I'll remember for the rest of my life."
Hopkins, who is originally from Jackson, graduated as an Indian in 2000. From there, he attended Culver Stockton College where he played baseball for four years.
Specializing as the Bulldogs' defensive backs coach, Hopkins will be in the press box alongside defensive coordinator, Andy McGill, on Friday nights.
"This has been an extremely successful defense for the past few years and I'm very lucky to come into my first year where my two starters are two of the best athletes in southeast Missouri," Hopkins said. "They make me look a lot better than I am. They are very gifted athletes and they do a great job."
Brock Allen is the Bulldogs' new slot receiver/tight ends coach.
A graduate of Eureka High School, Allen is just a year removed from student-teaching and coaching at Jackson High School.
When he heard of the chance to possibly work with Gibbs and the Sikeston Bulldogs, he jumped at the chance.
"I could see that he could be someone who I could learn a lot from and really benefit from," Allen said about working with Gibbs. "The most exciting part for me is to work with the guys out here -- the players. We've got kids here that are talented and extremely coachable. That's exciting."
With different backgrounds and styles coming into the mix, Gibbs is excited to hear about possible new ideas for his already well-established program.
"We've got guys that are from different parts of the state with some different ideas about some things about football," said Gibbs. "That's the thing that I like about it is different ideas. The thing you don't want on a staff is you don't want a lot of people with the same thoughts and you want different input. I think we've done that with who we've added and I'm excited to work with them."