Smith Center hires football coach

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Darren Sasse, Smith Center's former head junior high football coach, was recently named the Redmen high school head football coach, said Smith Center athletic director Greg Hobelmann on Wednesday afternoon. Sasse takes over for Kansas legend Roger Barta, who won 323 games in a career that stretched over five decades.

"I would say he is a lot like Barta," Smith Center athletic director Greg Hobelmann said. "He is very knowledgeable about the game. He is very organized. He has been running our junior high program for 10 years now. Been very successful at the junior high level."

"Knows the offense, played here, still worked with all the coaches on breaking down film on Saturdays and Sundays," Hobelmann added. "He has always been in the press box upstairs at all the varsity games. Even though his name wasn't maybe mentioned in the papers and stuff, he has still been very involved with the high school program."

Sasse, a Smith Center graduate, was officially hired at the Smith Center USD 237 Board of Education meeting Monday night. Barta's replacement was expected to come from within the coaching staff.

"If none of them wanted to do it, we might have looked somewhere else," Hobelmann said. "...We wanted to give our guys here first dibs at it."

Hobelmann said the process was stress-free and longtime assistants Brock Hutchinson and Mike Rogers are expected to keep their current positions.

"Luckily, we have very good assistant coaches, and we have three or four of them that would have been qualified to do the job," Hobelmann said. "We kind of let the coaches figure out where they fit in. It's a lot to do two head sports in one year and they just kind of thought for the betterment of the whole program that this probably was the best answer."

Hutchinson is the veteran defensive coordinator and head wrestling coach, while Rogers works with several positions, including running backs and special teams, and is the head track coach.

"I think if he wouldn't have been head wrestling coach, he would have considered it more," Hutchinson said. "But a big, deciding factor, he has four kids coming through and just wanted to be fair to his family and just wanted to be able to get to some of their stuff and some things, and doing two head jobs is a lot of time demanding."

Since Barta had retired from teaching several years ago, Hobelmann said no teaching job came with the coaching position. Sasse is currently a science teacher. Tim Wilson, a former Redmen graduate and longtime Smith Center assistant, likely would have been in the mix if Barta retired last year. However, Wilson isn't coaching this year and is helping on the family farm.

"Not really," Hobelmann said of considering Wilson. "The only real reason is there just wasn't any teaching jobs associated with this position, and it would have been difficult to get somebody in here to coach without the teaching. In this situation, it pretty much had to be somebody on staff."