Kevin Dyson is in his third year at Independence, but he’s already the dean of District 11-AAA football coaches.
Franklin’s Donnie Webb, Brentwood’s Mark Pemberton and Hillsboro’s Craig Clayton are all in their first season at their school. Centennial’s Brian Rector and Ravenwood’s Joe Rietveld are in their second year.
“Actually, I don’t even feel like (the dean) because Brian Rector has won a state title (at Ravenwood),” said Dyson, a former Titans receiver who is 37. “Donnie Webb has been around the district a lot longer than me even though this is his first head stint over here. Coach Clayton knows the (Williamson) county very well. I feel like I’ve still got a lot to prove because these guys have been around high school football a lot longer than me.”
Independence went 8-3 last season and won the District 11-AAA title. It was the Eagles’ first league championship since 2007.
Independence went 4-6 during Dyson’s first season in 2010, finishing fourth in the district.
St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who coached Dyson with the Titans from 1998-2002, isn’t surprised by his coaching success.
“I had interest in bringing Kevin up to work with the minority internship program here, but timing-wise it didn’t work,” Fisher said. “Kevin always had a really good understanding of the game. He’s got a great personality and he communicates well, and that’s the key at that level: energy, passion for the game and an ability to relate to people.”
Dyson has plenty of NFL resources, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to use them.
“I’ve got playbooks from (Marty) Schottenheimer, Cam Cameron, Luke Steckel, Mike Heimerdinger, Joe Gibbs and Dan Henning, but obviously I can’t do that at the high school level because of the complexity of some of the plays and schemes they use on Sundays,” Dyson said.
Eagles wide receiver Oscar Prado enjoys the drills Dyson and his staff use at practice. In one, the tips of the footballs are painted orange and blue and the players have to call out the color before catching it to improve concentration.
“If you don’t call it before you catch it you have to do whatever he says like pushups,” Prado said. “It’s pretty awesome playing for him. He played in the NFL, so he knows what he’s talking about. We don’t see him as a Titans player. We see him as a coach and as a family.”
With 10 returning starters and the addition of Christ Presbyterian Academy transfer Vic Wharton, the Eagles are likely to contend for the district title this fall.
“My first year I always talked about, ‘We were the hunters,’ ” Dyson said. “At some point I wanted to become the hunted, and right now I feel like we’re the hunted because anytime you’re the reigning champion … you’ll actually be the hunted until somebody knocks you off. So I’d like to stay on top of the perch and continue to be district champs and hopefully get deeper in the playoffs and have a chance to win a state title.”