Varsity Football

This coach gets one last chance to coach his son before he changes jobs

Goddard coach Scott Vang will coach his last game at the 2018 Kansas Shrine Bowl before taking over full duties as the El Dorado athletic director.
Goddard coach Scott Vang will coach his last game at the 2018 Kansas Shrine Bowl before taking over full duties as the El Dorado athletic director. The Wichita Eagle

It has been a busy week for Scott Vang.

Vang is serving as coach of the West team at the Shrine Bowl. He is in the middle of practices in Salina and will head to Pittsburg later in the week for a few more days of practice before the game at 7 p.m. Saturday.

But he has to keep up with his other job.

Vang was hired as the El Dorado athletic director in early April, which means Saturday will be his last game representing Goddard.

Almost four months into the new gig, Vang said the transition has been seamless, but when he gets back to the hotel from Shrine Bowl practice, his day of work isn’t done. He is still answering emails, getting on the phone and keeping up with projects.

For Vang, the Shrine Bowl was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

“It’s special to represent Goddard and be here with my son,” he said.

Goddard’s Kody Gonzalez (4) gets congratulated by teammate AJ Vang (51) after sealing the game with his second touchdown against Bishop Carroll in the fourth quarter in their playoff game Friday at Goddard. (Nov. 4, 2016) Fernando Salazar The Wichita Eagle

AJ Vang was a two-time All-Metro selection. He served as Goddard’s center all four years and had 121 pancake blocks in his high school career.

Saturday will be his last time representing Goddard, too.

“Its sad but at the same time, we’re just enjoying each other,” AJ said. “He’s coached me basically my whole life, so it’s sad but were having a lot of fun together.”

Players are paired during their stays in hotels. The Vangs are right across the hall, AJ said.

The players get to hang out throughout the week, playing pingpong, pool and a few games of Fortnite, but AJ said he and his dad are still finding time to enjoy each other’s company.

Goddard’s Kody Gonzalez (4) is congratulated by teammate AJ Vang, left, after scoring in the second quarter against Bishop Carroll during their regional playoff game Friday at Goddard. Goddard won 20-12. (Nov. 4, 2016) Fernando Salazar The Wichita Eagle

The Shrine Bowl is mostly reserved for the players and coaches selected, AJ said. There isn’t much time for outside family members to stop by. That’s why having his dad on the staff is so unique.

“It’s really fun,” he said. “I joke with him a lot. I like to make fun of him, and he likes make fun of me.”

AJ won’t be far from Scott after the Shrine Bowl. In fact, they will still be in the same city as AJ is signed to play at Butler Community College in El Dorado the fall.

For Scott, he is at peace with reality. His last game with Goddard was the Lions’ sub-state loss to Carroll to end the 2017 season. The Shrine Bowl is more like a victory lap.

The West team’s coaching roster is stacked with names from Kansas’ top high school programs.

Northwest’s Steve Martin is directing the defense. Carroll’s Dusty Trail and Vang debated who should run the offense. Smoky Valley’s Tim Labert, Hesston’s Tyson Bauerle and Smith Center’s Darren Sasse complete the staff.

“When they told me who my assistants were, I just tried to figure out who fit best where,” Vang said.

As for a comeback to the sidelines, Vang said don’t count on it — at least not right away. Vang reaches retirement age at 57, he said, and plans to be an athletic director for six or seven years.

Goddard QB Blake Sullivan (11) celebrates with teammate A.J. Vang after scoring against Heights in the first quarter during their 5A quarterfinal playoff game at Heights Friday. (Nov. 11, 2016) Fernando Salazar The Wichita Eagle

After that, he will re-evaluate, he said.

“I could be an assistant and the old guy on the staff,” Vang said. “They think of things the head coaches might forget. I’m not saying I’m not going to be a head coach anymore, but I don’t have the jones to be the head coach anymore.”

Vang was at Goddard for six seasons and raked in 37 wins, including 22 coming in the past two years. So for now, among the practices and athletic director duties, Vang said he is trying to sit back and enjoy the Shrine Bowl experience as much as he can.

He said with the players on his team — his son included — that has been easy.

“It my last go with him, and I’m enjoying that part of it and watching him play,” Vang said. “There’s a lot of AJs out here.”