Goddard will look to build off its Class 5A semifinal appearance with a new football coach leading the way.
Tom Beason has been hired as coach of the Lions after Scott Vang took the athletic director position at El Dorado.
Beason served as offensive coordinator under Vang in 2017 and helped make the Lions (11-1) one of the top offenses in the Wichita area. He said he isn't too worried about taking over the program because of the base Vang established.
“Coach Vang has done a good job allowing his coaches to coach and allowing me the opportunity to be that vice president,” he said. “Now basically everything we do here, I feel like our coaches have already been putting in place for years.
“I feel like taking this job over is the easiest takeover ever because I feel like I’ve already basically been doing the same things.”
He has led a program before. He served as the coach at North before taking the defensive coordinator job at Northwest and eventually six years as a coordinator at Goddard. He has experience and said he is excited to gain more with his new position.
Vang was coach at Goddard for six seasons. He raked in 37 wins, with 22 coming in the last two seasons. But the first three seasons were bleak, going 9-26. After the third season, Beason moved from defensive to offensive coordinator.
“We got to a point where we had to make some changes or there was going to be some big changes,” he said.
He cited what Dusty Trail did at Carroll last year as a bit of motivation. Trail was a first-year coach for the Eagles, taking over for Alan Schuckman, who brought Carroll to power in Kansas. Trail won the Class 5A championship in his first season.
Beason said he sees Trail almost every morning at the gas station he stops at before heading to work. They talk about football and coaching. Beason said there is one similarity with between both groups' players that gives him confidence
“We’re no Carroll; they’ve had success way longer than we have,” he said. “But (Trail) knew those kids he was going to have, so when he got his shot, he knew them, and they knew him. I think I’m in the same boat.”
That knowledge will be key in 2018. Goddard lost more talent than any other school in the Wichita area. Ten seniors are gone, and nine are committed to play in college, including quarterback Blake Sullivan.
Sullivan was a staple for the Lions and seemed to be the engine behind Goddard’s success, earning him a scholarship to Fort Hays State. But there was a moment that showed a bit of promise that maybe he wasn’t.
Sullivan injured his left shoulder against Eisenhower last season. Freshman Kyler Semrad was forced into action and handled the scene with poise. He threw an 11-yard fade to Beason’s son, Owen, that gave Goddard a 21-7 lead at halftime, and the Lions hung on for a 28-13 win.
This season will undoubtedly be different for Semrad. He won’t have a lot of those same offensive weapons back at his disposal, but he has proven capable of leading the way.
“Kyler was able to come in and play behind some established guys,” Vang said. “Well, now it’s gonna be a little different. Some young guys are going to have to play.
“They’re not devoid of talent. There are some good, old guys on that team. They’re going to be OK. It’s just going to be a learning experience because they’re going to be under the lights now.”
In much of the same way, Vang said though it might have seemed as if he was the one pushing the buttons that made Goddard go, maybe even more credit should go to Beason and defensive coordinator Darrin Fisher.
Vang said a lot of what people saw on the field came straight from Beason and Fisher. He handled most of the off-the-field items. Because of that, Vang said he is excited to see Beason thrive with the Lions.
“He absolutely had my blessing,” Vang said. “I wanted either him or Fisher. I’m a big believer in the culture we’ve created, and they’ve certainly helped establish a lot of that.”