By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
After serving as a high school assistant for 10 years, Erik Yoakam will take over as head coach for the Nevada Tigers football program.
Yoakam, who played football at St. Mary’s-Colgan and Pittsburg State University, was hired to replace Wes Beachler at Nevada.
Beachler, who led the Tigers for two seasons, left to become the head coach at Republic High School.
“I’ve always wanted to be a head coach,” Yoakam said. “Nevada was 8-3 last year, and coach Beachler got the program moving in the right direction. I thought it would be a good opportunity for my first head coaching job. Hopefully, it’s my last job.”
Yoakam worked under some of the most successful coaches in Kansas during his 10 years as an assistant, including Colgan’s Chuck Smith and Fort Scott’s Bob Campbell. The two combine for seven state championships and about 500 wins. Yoakam also was an assistant for former Leavenworth coach Kevin Kopecky, who has won 157 games in his 26 years as a head coach.
“Those guys are great coaches,” Yoakam said. “From those three, I learned how to be a good person probably more than anything else.”
After finishing play at Pittsburg State in 2003, Yoakam was an assistant at Colgan for two seasons. He then coached at Fort Scott under Don Epps for one year, followed by six seasons at Leavenworth, where he was run-game coordinator for one season and defensive coordinator/strength coach for five seasons. This past fall, he was the strength and conditioning coordinator and coached the tight ends and defensive backs for Campbell at Fort Scott.
Nevada will be an independent this season but will join the West Central Conference with Sedalia Smith-Cotton, Warrensburg, Kansas City Center, Clinton, Kansas City St. Pius X and Kansas City O’Hara in 2014.
“It’s always good to be able to compete for a league title,” Yoakam said. “I’m excited about it. It will be good to be able to get to know your opponents well and seeing the same thing year in and year out. Developing rivalries will be a neat thing.”
Yoakam said he met with his team, which will include 22 seniors, this past week. Nevada will return about 70 players overall.
“We have a lot of skill position players returning,” he said. “We lost a lot of offensive and defensive linemen.”