By Mark Carpenter
Defender of the People
Adams County football programs suffered a big loss recently when Scott McFarland, one of the founding members of the West Union program and the only director the Southern Ohio Independent League has seen, announced he would be stepping down from all his roles with football. program.
âIt was definitely a tough decision as I love coaching and mentoring these young athletes,â McFarland said in an exclusive interview with The Defender. âThe two main factors were really due to my work schedule which just did not support my ability to train every day due to the demands of travel and a growing desire to spend more weekend time with it. my family, including my new grandson. Last spring I took on a new role as part of a corporate reorganization that has been a blessing from a professional standpoint, but has also come with higher expectations and sacrifices. . I knew that sooner or later this decision would have to be made to properly prioritize professional responsibilities and my volunteer role as a coach.
One of the good things about COVID has been that we have been subject to travel restrictions for the past two years, which has allowed me to continue training. My wife Rhonda and I will always be involved in running West Union football and Freedom Field, but not in a day-to-day coaching role. We love to see the kids in our community having the opportunity to play football like other counties in Ohio. “
Looking back, McFarland remembers the whole process of restarting the football program at West Union, which quickly spread to other parts of the county.
âIn 2011 we had a few kids including my son Carson who wanted to play football and was planning to sign up to play in Manchester. We were asked to organize a registration for more West Union kids and we ended up with 24 fifth and sixth graders who all wanted to play together on the same team. We decided to try and start our own West Union team and within three weeks we raised the money to buy some gear and started training. “
âThe amount of support and interest from the children’s community was like a tidal wave. The following year, we added third and fourth grades and junior high so the kids could keep playing. In 2013 we added High School and over 30 players signed up to play for Coach Steve Darby. The program continued to involve 80 to 100 children in football each year and was found to be financially feasible in Adams County. We have now seen successful programs in North Adams, Peebles and Eastern Brown to develop the Southern Ohio Independent League.
Over the past nine seasons, West Union’s football program has seen tremendous success, including the SOIL Championships and players who have moved up to the college level.
âWe’ve had so many great memories, small wins, big games, championships and so many smiles on the faces of these young players,â said McFarland. âThe greatest memory for me will always be the personal development of these players on and off the pitch. In any given year, more than half of the children who play football do not participate in any other sport, either because of a lack of interest, body type or a lack of support. We have a lot of great athletes who come from difficult family life situations and wear this Dragon jersey with pride and feel part of something positive that gives them a purpose and a family that they might not have. not otherwise.
âOver the years we’ve seen struggling kids improve their behavior and grades while playing soccer, which we highlight at all age levels. We have seen players with disabilities who had never played a sport score a touchdown and feel on top of the world with their entire team rallying around them. We saw a player struggling emotionally surrounded by his teammates, kneeling in prayer to uplift his teammate when needed. Players have made their dreams of playing football in college come true, one of which will graduate with a master’s degree this spring. We have seen so many children learn valuable life lessons and create great memories over the years. In short, we have seen an opportunity turn into an accomplishment.
âFrom a football standpoint, winning the SOIL Championship and playing in the SOIL Super Bowls are definitely special memories,â McFarland continued. âRivalry games with other local schools are always great fun. Playing out of conference and competing with other OHSAA schools was also a great experience. Hearing from other coaches in the area that we would make the OHSAA playoffs very well is certainly a validation and a huge compliment to our players and our program. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to be a part of it all.
âThe next step for football in Adams County is to become school-sponsored. Together we have a great opportunity to fill the gaps that currently exist in academic accountability and behavior, just like the other sports and to provide greater opportunities for local and statewide recognition, in line with other Ohio schools. Football has demonstrated that it can be a financial success in our country and we believe firmly and have proven that we can overcome any obstacle that may stand in our way if we work together with an open mind and a desire to provide a positive opportunity for our children. It will help our families, help our schools, build new stronger communities, develop greater school pride and create more opportunities for a wider range of students. We look forward to having further discussions with the admin tration and the ACOVSD Board of Directors to make this possible for Adams County students.
With McFarland leaving, what is the future of West Union football?
âThe head coach of our program wears many hats, more than just coaching a high school team,â says McFarland. âIn all sports, there aren’t many people who are willing to take on a very long list of responsibilities. We looked for someone who would commit to our program for the next 5-10 years. Knowing his successful experience with starting and organizing the wrestling program at West Union and the desire to see our program succeed in the long term for his two sons, our Board of Directors selected Michael Felts as the new West Head Coach. Union. Felts has previously worked with college coaches and other high school coaches to develop his knowledge and skills and will do a great job of continuing the tradition of West Union football.