SULLIVAN — Former St. Teresa and Central A&M assistant Jeff Myers has been named the new football coach at Sullivan-Okaw Valley.
Myers, a 1988 Moweaqua graduate, replaced Andy Kerley, who went 0-9 last season.
Myers didn't coach last year but was an assistant at St. Teresa under his former coach and current Bulldogs coach Mark Ramsey in 2016, and also coached with Ramsey at A&M in 1992, and from 1998 to 2003. The Central A&M 1992 and 2001 teams finished as the Class 2A runner-up, while the 2016 St. Teresa Bulldogs finished second in Class 1A.
He was an assistant at South Walton in Santa Rose Beach, Fla., a school of about 800, from 2004 to 2015.
"I enjoyed being an assistant for so many years I never really though about being a head coach until the last three years," said Myers, a Southern Illinois University grad. "It is something I wanted to explore and the opportunity came to me at Sullivan."
South Walton was 11-30 from 2004 to 2007 before going 22-11 in three seasons. After two 1-9 seasons, the Seahawks went 21-10 in Myers' last three seasons.
"South Walton was a great experience," Myers said. "I was offensive coordinator there and we became one of the hotbeds of high school football. I had the opportunity to come back two years ago and work in the family business and a chance to come back and coach under Ramsey."
Sullivan athletic director Ryan Aikman said Myers' experience was a big reason he was hired.
"He gained a wealth of knowledge working with great people like Mark Ramsey and Central A&M had sustainable success," Aikman said. "At South Walton, the program started out in the rebuilding stage, but within a couple of years was competing for the district championship. He has been through the process of building up a program and that is where we are at.
"He has experience coaching in every position offensively and defensively, and head coach oversees all of those. The other thing is he really wanted to be part of the Sullivan-Okaw Valley football program. He expressed interest immediately and really wants to be here for the long haul."
Myers has served as offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, running backs coach, defensive line coach, defensive backs coach and strength and conditioning coach during his 21 years as an assistant.
The Sullivan football team has been in the weight room this summer and will attend a two-week camp in July as well.
Among the players expected to return is starting quarterback Luke Harlin. Six players graduated from last year's team.
In the last 16 seasons, Sullivan has had two seasons of .500 or above and that was in 2014 (8-2 making the playoffs in Class 3A) and 2015 (5-5 also making the playoffs in Class 3A) under Gerald Temples. The Redskins are 38-99 in the last 16 seasons.
"I know they have had hard times in recent years," said Myers. "We will work really hard to get back to where we need to be. We're taking it day by day as it is a process to get back to the winning way."
Currently Myers is hoping to a add a few more assistant coaches, but the ones he has include three former Sullivan assistant coaches, including John Bertetto, who was at Monticello last season, Nathan Becker, who is also the Sullivan baseball coach, and Scott Bales.
Another assistant is Myers' son Brody Myers, a 2014 South Walton grad, who was a tight end. Myers is a senior at the University of Florida and will take online classes in the fall. Bertetto is also taking over for Kerley as the boys track coach, a position he held previously.
"The three former assistants were very welcoming to me and I look forward to working with them," Myers said.