Bryan Hoover knows what being part of breakthrough football seasons is like. Lewis County’s new coach played running back at a Sciotoville (Portsmouth East) program that went 19-1 in regular-season games in his junior and senior years of high school in 2007-08.
Hoover aims to apply the same principles in Vanceburg, where football success is not unheard of but has been hard to come by in recent seasons.
“Being from a place that’s not a traditional powerhouse winning team, when you have that core group of kids that really buy into a system, like my class did at Sciotoville, and are willing to put the work in, that’s when special things can happen,” Hoover said Friday. “It doesn’t matter where you are. If you get a group of kids that are willing to work, buy into a system and listen to what they’re told, then special things can happen no matter where you are.”
That should be music to the ears of the Lions, who have gone 7-43 in the five years since their last .500 season in 2014. That included an 0-10 campaign last fall.
“We believe that Bryan is the guy to lead our football program to new places,” Lewis County High School principal Jack Lykins said. “We think coach Hoover is a perfect fit, young and energetic. We look forward to him coaching here for many years to come.”
Hoover aims to bring “a fresh energy” to his first head-coaching job. He didn’t know much about Lewis County when he applied, but came away impressed from the interview process.
“Those people want to win so bad down there, and they’re willing to put the work in,” Hoover said, “so I just want to do my part and help put a winning product on the field.”
Hoover, a 2009 Sciotoville graduate, went on to the college programs at Ohio Wesleyan and Syracuse. He remains tied for fifth in single-game kickoff-return yardage in the Battling Bishops’ record book (127 yards in 2009 against Wooster). He graduated from Grand Canyon’s online program.
Hoover worked as the defensive coordinator at his alma mater and as the offensive coordinator at South Point, giving him good perspective, he said.
“As a player, you just kind of have a one-track mind. You do your job and that’s it,” Hoover said. “You count on everybody else to do their job, and really, when I first got into coaching, it hit me like a brick wall — you have to see the whole field, you have to know what everyone’s doing all the time, be able to think three moves ahead. So having that experience as a coordinator, as a playcaller, and someone that designed full playbooks on both sides of the ball, it really helped me see the game as a whole and not just from a tunnel-vision perspective like I used to as a player.”
Hoover can’t jump right into his new gig. The KHSAA remains in a dead period until April 12 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, and spring football has been canceled.
“Right now, I think everyone’s in a difficult situation,” Hoover said, “but in my situation specifically, where I’m going into a brand-new place, brand-new area, expecting all these kids to want to listen to what I have to say and buy into what I have to say, and they’re not even gonna get to see me for the next couple months due to everything being locked out.
“We’re gonna have to overcome that any way we can, whether it’s digital interaction or just meeting up outside of football and not even doing football stuff. We’ll find a way around it. I’m a creative guy and I have enough energy to get things done, no matter how we have to get it done.”
Hoover, 29, is married to Kalyn. They have two sons — Rayce, 9, and Grayson, 3. The family lives in Wheelersburg, Ohio.
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