The evidence was in Derby’s 17-14 triumph over Blue Valley in the Class 6A championship game last fall, when the Panthers’ defense pitched a second-half shutout to win the team’s third title in the last four seasons.
Shelby Wehrmann was the defensive line coach for that team and has been a Derby assistant for nearly a decade. He points to that game as proof that defense decides championships and that’s the mentality he wants to bring to Cheney, where he was hired as the new coach last week.
“I think if you can limit an offense and control the game defensively, then you’re able to frustrate the opponent a little more and be in control of the game more,” Wehrmann said. “Also being a former walk-on at K-State, hard work is kind of my motto and something I believe we’ll stick to. That’s what I’ll be preaching.”
Wehrmann is the seventh assistant coach on Derby’s staff to leave for a head-coaching position in Brandon Clark’s 11 years. Defensive coordinator Cade Armstrong also left this offseason to become Andover’s coach.
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He replaces Cory Brack, who left to become the athletic director at Wichita South. Brack was 27-19 in six seasons at Cheney.
“(Wehrmann) is a hard-worker and is very knowledgeable about the game of football, both offensively and defensively,” Clark said. “He’s extremely good with kids and is just a great, great leader. We’re not only losing a great coach, but we’re also losing a best friend. I know the staff here and the town of Derby will all be Cheney fans now for sure.”
Wehrmann was a standout linebacker at Derby under Tom Young and won the school’s first state championship during his senior season in 1994. He would walk on at Kansas State and play for Bill Snyder for four years.
After working with Clark for the last decade, Wehrmann has a wealth of knowledge from what he feels like are three of the best coaches in Kansas.
“I guarantee you I am a better coach because of it,” Wehrmann said. “Working with Coach Clark for so long, he’s been a great example for anybody to look at how he’s built the program up in Derby. So I think we can make a pretty big impact in Cheney right away.”
Cheney was 5-4 last season and returns quarterback Micah Grover, along with all-class honorable mention players Trent Scheer, Lakin Petz, and Jacob Howell.
Wehrmann said he will retain the assistant coaching staff at Cheney. He will introduce new defensive principles, but wants to keep the schemes mostly the same.
“I’m really comfortable already with the assistants and I think we’re going to use a lot of what Cheney has been having success with in the past with coach Brack,” Wehrmann said. “But there’s also a few things I’m sure we can use with what coach Clark has done at Derby. So you can expect some new wrinkles to be put in there as well.”