It’s August. Time to start thinking football, volleyball and cross country, and even golf, at least for some San Juan High golfers.
Let’s start this week with the Monticello High School Buckaroos brand new head football coach, Jake Downard.
Downard brings high expectations and great credentials to a strong legacy of 1A football at MHS. Read on, ya’ll, to learn about the Downards, Jake, Lyndsay, and Wyatt.
Q. What do you think about Monticello so far?
A. Monticello is a great place, the people here have been very out-going. We have felt welcome from day one. It is a town that is steeped in tradition and football is one of those traditions. I am a big tradition guy so therefore I have enjoyed Monticello very much. Plus the Hideout Golf Club is three minutes from my house!
Q. Tell us about you and your family.
A. I have been married to my wife Lyndsay for three years. We have a nine month old son named Wyatt. We enjoy being outdoors and we both enjoy athletics. My wife is in love with crafting and having fun.
Q. Where were you and your wife raised?
A. I was born and raised in Coalville, UT. My wife was born in Riverton, WY and her family moved to Coalville when she was in the 7th grade.
Q. What influence does your upbringing have on you now?
A. It has had a huge influence on my life. When we were married, I told my wife that I want to live in a smaller community. I just feel at home in smaller towns. I was taught to work hard, be grateful for what I have and to respect people. My upbringing obviously has led me to what I am today. It played a big role in our decision to come to Monticello.
Q. You come from Coalville most recently. How is Coalville different from Monticello?
A. Monticello reminds me a lot of Coalville. The really big difference I suppose is that Coalville is 45 minutes from Ogden, Salt Lake, & Evanston. The actual town of Coalville is not any bigger than Monticello; the difference is the other little towns that feed the high school and make the school a little bigger.
Q. How did you end up in Monticello?
A. I was doing my student teaching at North Summit High School and I began looking for job openings. When Monticello posted that they were looking for a football coach, I talked with my family and felt good about my opportunity down here and decided to apply. A Social Studies job was not open at the time, but it worked out and we were fortunate enough to be offered the position.
Q. Where did you go to college? Did you play football in college?
A. I began college at Southern Utah University on a football scholarship for the Thunderbirds. I then finished up my education and earned my bachelors degree from Utah State University this past May.
Q. You are the Buckaroos new head football coach, your first head coaching job. How do you feel about that title?
A. Well to be honest, it still feels a little awkward. Just hearing that statement gives me a stomach ache. I feel very humbled yet excited at the same time for this opportunity.
I am extremely excited to be a coach in a town that loves football. It was a big reason why I decided to come down here. That same factor also keeps me up at nights. Monticello has great tradition and I am very excited to be a part of that and hope to add exciting new chapters to Monticello Football.
Q. What experience do you bring to coaching football?
A. I have played football at the collegiate level, which has taught me many things and really got me into wanting to be a coach.
The past two seasons I was an assistant coach at North Summit High School. I gained priceless experience in back-to-back state championship seasons. Also being able to learn from Jerre Holmes, whom I consider to be one of the best coaches in the state.
Obviously my experience isn’t vast, but I would say that I have had a great start and learned valuable aspects of coaching.
Q. How will that coaching experience help you?
A. It will help in a lot of ways, being fortunate enough to be in two state championship games speaks volumes in the sense of knowing what it is like to be there and the work and preparation that it requires getting there.
Some coaches can coach for a long time and never see that state game. Those experiences will help because I know what it takes to get to that game. Once you get there, you want to go back as many times as you can because it doesn’t get any better.
Being under Jerre Holmes also will help in that he knows all the little intangibles that it takes to win and learning a few of those will help me this upcoming season.
Q. What are your long term goals for football at MHS?
A. My long term goals at Monticello are to Restore the Traditions that exist in this town. Five years ago, Monticello was on top of 1A football. I expect us to be back there shortly.
I have a goal of making Monticello a staple in the quarterfinal and semi-finals. Also a part of restoring the tradition is to produce young men who are mentally tough, who know how to work, and who are just great kids, who will become even better men and individuals.
So not only winning on the field, but producing kids who will be winners in life no matter what they may face.
Q. What is the first thing you told your team on the first day of practice?
A. Full out for four quarters and No regrets. Their football life is too short to waste even but a second of their careers.
Q. Who are your assistant coaches? How will you utilize them and their talents?
A. Brian Bowring, Tyler Gates, and Lee Chadwick. Each one of these men is bringing a variety of talents to the football program.
Brian has seen some great times at Monticello football and his experience and enthusiasm are irreplaceable.
Tyler is a guy the kids look up to and has a great passion for football which is very contagious.
Lee also brings a lot of experience and dedication to the program. All of us are on the same page to return Monticello Football back to where it belongs.
Q. How do you get high school kids mentally ready to play football?
A. Football is phenomenal in the sense that it is a huge facilitator for life lessons. By relating events in their lives or experiences they will face, they will be able to relate the work and determinations gained in football and apply it to those life situations.
In other words, by being able to draw comparisons between football and life, kids can be mentally ready not only for situations in football but also for life.
Q. You’ve been involved in coaching at North Summit High School, where there has been huge football success recently. What do you bring from NS that will help at MHS?
A. I can relate with the kids. During my freshman and sophomore seasons, we were at the bottom of 2A football, winning three games in two years.
In 2000, we got a new coach with a new attitude and system. I am bringing parts of that system and philosophy to Monticello.
The philosophy allows for the kids to compete and have success at a high level. Also I am a competitor and I don’t enjoy losing (who does?). So we will also be bringing that mentality as well.
Q. Fielding a football team at a small school is sometimes difficult. How do you plan to increase the number of students playing football for MHS?
A. Being from a small town myself, I know how important football is.
Monticello is a football town. Getting numbers is a result of the classes that come through. A goal is to have at least ten kids from each grade. Allowing the kids to experience success and win games is the key. Everybody wants to be a part of something that wins and succeeds, so we are going to win games and also allow the kids to have great experiences that they will cherish through their lives.
Q. What are your plans to get the community involved?
A. Our theme is Restoring Tradition, obviously that involves the community. I envision when teams have Monticello on their schedule they will not only experience a darn good football team but also a black and orange wave so to speak.
People will realize that this town loves their football team and that the kids will play their guts out not to let the fans down.
Not only winning football games but producing kids that are respectful to the community and who will help wherever they are needed.
Q. How is the weightlifting going?
A. The kids have been working hard and it will pay off for them. We do need to make some big strides in this area, but I have been pleased with their effort and dedication.
Q. Why should we be excited about football at MHS?
A. There is great potential here at Monticello. With the latest state realignment, we have a chance to make some real noise this year in 1A football. The kids are excited and eager to get going.
There are going to be some changes, changes that are going to bring some excitement, with the potential of a great season.
Q. What are your hobbies or interests?
A. I enjoy most sports, and simply being outside and doing things. My wife and I also love going to the movies, which is something we both enjoy doing together. I enjoy playing all types of games. Enjoy fishing and hunting as well.
Q. Tell us something about yourself that most people wouldn’t expect.
A. I turned down the PGA Tour to come to Monticello… I have a very sarcastic sense of humor.
Q. What is the most exciting thing you have ever done?
A. The most exciting thing I can think of was being there when our son was born. It was one of those experiences that wasn’t anti-climatic or a let down; it was truly an irreplaceable moment.
Q. What are your three most treasured possessions and why?
Religion, because I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for my beliefs.
Family, because everything I do in life revolves around them and they are what keep me going everyday.
Football, because it has provided me with some of my greatest experiences and joys in life so far.
Q. What is the best thing you’ve learned from your parents?
A. I would have to say that they have taught me to be honest and hard-working. So far in my life, these principles have treated me well and have led me to have no regrets.