CANNONSBURG Paul Rains built a reputation for turning around struggling high school football teams in eastern and central Kentucky.
Now retired from head coaching, Rains is providing assistance to Boyd County’s program in a consulting role.
The Lions finished 0-10 last season during David Manning’s first season at the helm. Boyd County averaged 6.3 points per game while allowing 44.2. Some players quit the team along the way.
Manning reached out to a friend and coaching mentor. Rains went 208-119 in a 27-year head coaching career that included stops at Hazard, Montgomery County, Madison Central, Lexington Christian Academy, Mercer County, Letcher County Central and Paul Laurence Dunbar.
“David was junior high school coach for me when I was at Montgomery County,” said Rains, who guided the Indians to region titles in 1995 and ’96. “We stayed in touch over the years.”
Rains’ leadership and attention to detail particularly struck Manning from their time working together.
After they discussed Boyd County’s 2017 season, Rains watched game video and said, “I will come and help.”
Rains, 56, lives in Georgetown and teaches at Scott County. He’s traveled back and forth to Cannonsburg, attending spring practice and working with the Lions during summer team camp at Kentucky Christian University in Grayson.
“To have somebody of that caliber is huge,” Manning said. “Our kids love it. They really respond to him well. We film every practice. He can watch them on Hudl and give feedback on it.”
So far, so good as Boyd County works to move forward.
“The offense and defense David is using are things we’ve had success with in the past,” Rains said. “I have been working with Boyd County in some capacity every week.”
Rains spent the whole team camp with the Lions. His message went beyond football to leadership training and shaping positive values.
“Later in coach Rains’ years, he turned more to what it takes to be a man,” Manning said. “”He can ‘X’ and ‘O’ with the best of them, but that’s where I really enjoy him. Visions of manhood is what God is pushing him to do. We’ve made a crest for our guys based on that.”
Manning said Rains had given him the Jeffrey Marx-authored inspirational book “Season of Life,” in which NFL star-turned-volunteer high school coach Jeff Ehrmann is asked “How’s your team going to be this season?’
“He answered, ‘I’ll let you know in 10 years,’” Manning said. “That speaks volumes. It really hit my heart. A big part of coaching is working on improving the kids to be better individuals ... better kids for their parents now and later better husbands and fathers.”
Rains said he thinks Manning has the Lions going in the right direction.
“David is building a good, strong foundation,” he said. “They are making strides. Boyd County has some good senior leadership. We tried to spur into that. I expect to see improvement and for them to win some games and have fun doing it.”
Boyd County has 35 players, including a dozen freshmen.
“It’s kind of a vicious cycle,” Rains said. “You’ve got to get the numbers up to win, but you also have to win to get your numbers up.”
Rains coached Lexington Christian Academy to its only state championship in 2009. LCA walloped Mayfield, 55-19, in the Class A final. He also guided the Eagles to the 2007 title game (a 38-35 loss to Beechwood).
Rains said he likely coached against Raceland and/or Fairview more than any other schools from his years at Hazard and LCA.
“(Former Raceland coach) Bill Tom Ross was probably one of the biggest mentors in my coaching life, even though we were competing against each other,” Rains said. “He was one of the finest coaches I’ve been around and a very good friend.
“It’s pretty neat. I’m up in that area now and of course Bill Tom coached for a little while at Boyd County.”
Rains is also doing consulting work for Whitley County and Dunbar.
“I’ve been coaching as much as I was before,” he said. “I think I may be coaching more. But I don’t have to deal with all the other issues that come with it, so it’s all good.”
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