First-year football coach Rob Shader looked to his past connections through Santiam Christian while putting together his staff at Philomath High. It's really no surprise that such relationships would come into play with players and coaches forming a competitive bond and trust through all of their battles on the field.
Two of Shader's assistants bring college coaching experience to the equation. Defensive coordinator Mike Waters, 66, has a long resume that includes stops at small colleges and 13 years at Santiam Christian. Offensive line coach Jeremy Burrows, 26, has a year of collegiate coaching and looks forward to working with high-schoolers.
With practice officially opening this week, the new staff seemingly has its work cut out to get in their schemes by the time the Warriors head to Junction City Sept. 1. But both Waters and Burrows said they keep things simple and the players will be fine.
"I'm a 4-3 guy, cover 4, and I'm big on technique at each position, lots of time with individual and group work and a lot of teaching," Waters said about the defense. "I don't like to blitz a lot and come up with gimmicky stuff. I like to play sound, everybody lines up and knows their assignments. We'll prepare them through the week and have fun on game night."
Burrows indicated that the offensive linemen won't have any real intense complexities to deal with when lining up against opposing teams.
"We're not going to run a whole ton of plays and keep it pretty short. In total, we might have between running and passing, 20 total, that's it," Burrows said. "I don't want to give away too much what we're going to do but O-line wise, we're going to be pretty technical but it's not going to be anything the kids can't handle."
Shader will handle offensive coordinator duties himself. Miles Naughton will help with the offense, working primarily with wide receivers, while Brian Lundy coaches running backs. John Shader, the head coach's father, will be the special teams coordinator and coach tight ends.
James Kohn will coach linebackers and Tyler Hoerauf will lend his knowledge to long-snapping. Kohn will be the junior varsity head coach with Naughton serving as his offensive coordinator.
The Warriors will scrimmage at noon Saturday and follow with an Aug. 25 home jamboree against 2A state champion Regis and Seton Catholic (Washington).
After playing for Oregon College of Education (since renamed Western Oregon University), Waters coached for a year at Cal and followed with stops at Menlo (California) and Willamette. He stepped away from coaching for a number of years before getting involved again at the high school level.
Waters joined Crescent Valley's staff in the mid-1990s and also spent a couple of years with Gary Beck at Corvallis High. After another stint at the college level at Western Oregon, Waters then settled down at Santiam Christian and coached there from 2003-15.
"I'm trying to get back to Willamette, yeah, but it's got to be full-time, so I waited," Waters said. "I told Rob, 'hey, if you still need me, I'm ready to help' and he was ecstatic and delighted. Any time you've got someone you've been with in battle in a sport like this and you've been together ... I know what kind of players these guys are. I know Jeremy's coached at the small college level. I think for me, this is going to be a treat to be with this group."
Waters was a late coaching staff addition after Shader had earlier penciled in Nathan Hightower, another with Santiam Christian connections, at defensive coordinator. Shader said Hightower had time commitment issues and Waters came on board.
Waters works at Timberhill Athletic Club in Corvallis for his day job and the goal remains to get back into small college coaching.
"We'll just have to wait and see," he said about future opportunities. "I made a one-year commitment to Rob and get this going."
Burrows played two years behind Shader at Santiam Christian with both on the 2006 team that became the first Eagles squad to reach the state finals. He went on to play at the NCAA Division III level at Greenville College (Illinois), switching from his high school position of center/defensive line to left offensive tackle.
The team experienced some success during Burrows' years there and he collected individual accolades as well, including first-team all-conference his junior and senior years and inclusion three times on preseason All-America lists.
After college, he nearly headed to Europe to play for a German team but it didn't happen because of a league rule change involving the number of foreign athletes on the roster. Two days after he found out he wasn't headed overseas, his head coach from Greenville called and said he had taken the job at Bluefield College, an NAIA school in Virginia.
"He asked if I wanted to try out coaching," Burrows said. "They were looking for a running backs coach, then strength and conditioning. That's what attracted me to go out there."
The coaches at Greenfield had seen potential in Burrows as a possibility to contribute as a teacher to others.
"The whole time I was there, they told me I was going to be a good coach," Burrows said. "They were like, 'you need to get into coaching, you're going to be great at it.' Since the fifth grade on, football's been a part of my life and I just couldn't imagine my life without it. Once I was done playing college and found out I was not playing in Europe, I jumped at the opportunity."
Burrows got a taste of the coaching profession in 2013 at Bluefield. But working 80 to 100 hours a week on a part-time salary took a toll. Coaches have to pay their dues if they want to make a career of it and for those at the college level, there are many duties that go well beyond the actual games.
Burrows left Bluefield and has been out of coaching until now. He's currently working at the Target Distribution Center in Albany while studying to become a building code inspector. Shader made the call to Burrows to see if he had an interest in getting back on the gridiron.
"This will be my first high school season and it'll be interesting to see the differences between college and high school," Burrows said. "It's been a long time since I've seen high school athletes in action. From what I've seen so far, we've got quite a few guys that aren't even necessarily seniors that are looking pretty good already. It's looking pretty promising heading into the season."
Joining a new school always comes with a little bit of the unknown. For example, the longtime coaches at Santiam Christian always knew what they had in terms of talent coming up. But as Waters said Shader told him, "You're going to like it. There are good kids here, good talent and it's going to be interesting."