Marshfield football coach Nate Thomas has been tapped to lead Kickapoo High School on the gridiron.
Thomas told the News-Leader that he met with assistant coaches and athletes in Marshfield Monday to announce that he has accepted the vacant position of head football coach at Kickapoo.
“It was about as long of a day you can have as a head coach, there’s no doubt about it,” Thomas said.
The Marshfield Board of Education held a special session meeting Monday at 6 p.m. that included a closed session to discuss matters of personnel. The outcome of the meeting is not immediately known. Springfield Public Schools Director of Communications Teresa Bledsoe did not confirm Thomas’ pending hire on Wednesday, but said the school district could officially announce the hiring of a Kickapoo football coach as early as Thursday.
Thomas’ hiring at Kickapoo would need to be confirmed by the Springfield Public Schools Board of Education. Thomas said he turned in a letter of resignation to Marshfield school officials Monday morning.
Thomas became head football coach at Marshfield prior to the 2015 season. Prior to Marshfield, he spent 13 years as an assistant at Liberty High School in Kansas City.
Thomas was an all-state football, basketball and track and field athlete at Nixa, where he played for former Nixa and Kickapoo coach Joel Wells. Thomas would later coach on Wells’ staff at Liberty.
“I’ve had a really good relationship with Joel Wells and he spoke very highly of the Kickapoo job and his time there,” Thomas said.
The retirement of Kurt Thompson after two seasons in a second stint and Kickapoo cleared the way for Thomas to move into Springfield’s largest public high school. The Chiefs were 9-2 last season and were eliminated by Rockhurst in the Class 6 district playoffs.
Thompson had two different periods coaching football at Kickapoo. His second stint spanned the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Kickapoo won 62 games and lost 34 in Thompson’s first nine-year stint as head coach. The Chiefs were 20-3 in the second span. He will retire with an overall record of 180-87.
Thomas said he does not plan to make a radical transition to Kickapoo’s style of play.
“I’m going to sit down and watch a little film. You hate to come around and try to flip a program on its head with as much success as they’ve had,” Thomas said. “We’ll make some tweaks, some adjustments, and be sure to put a product on the field that Kickapoo can be proud of.”
Under Thomas, Marshfield went 5-15 over two seasons. The 2016 Bluejays were 2-8 with wins over Buffalo and McDonald County. Marshfield ran into Webb City in the Class 4 playoffs and fell 49-14.
Thomas described the Bluejays as “right there on the verge,” of becoming a winning team.
“They’re right there on the edge of getting that thing turned around. They’ve got kids that are doing things the right way,” Thomas said.
Before he got into coaching, Thomas played four years of football as a wide receiver and kick returner at University of Central Missouri. He also competed as a sprinter on the Mules’ track and field team. He went on to obtain a master’s degree in science of education from Northwest Missouri State University.
Thomas, 36, has been married to his wife Tara for 15 years. They have two children.