By Brad Morris
The seven-year itch was ultimately too hard for Steve Evans to pass up.
But this wasn’t the type of romance that Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell made famous on the big screen in their mid-1950s movie, this instead was a romance with coaching.
“I think it comes down to that once you are a coach that you always have coaching in your blood,” Evans said. “It wasn’t that I didn’t like the job I am doing, but it was more about missing being around a program, building a program, having the opportunity to be a role model for kids and missing coaching the greatest game that there is.”
Evans, 46, was officially approved on Wednesday by the Circleville City Schools Board of Education as the next head football coach of the Tigers. A graduate of Amanda-Clearcreek and Mount Union, Evans has spent the last seven years as athletic director at Amanda-Clearcreek. Before that, he served two stints as head coach at Teays Valley and also led programs at Reynoldsburg and Hamilton Township. Evans led both the Vikings and Rangers to a league championship.
“The timing was pretty good to get back into coaching,” Evans revealed. “When I stepped down at Teays Valley (after the 2013 season), my wife (Jamie) and I had four younger kids and it was unfair to her to have to be saddled with all of the things that she had to do.
“Now, I have a daughter in her sophomore year of college and a son in his senior year at high school. I still have two younger kids, but it’s much more manageable.”
The proximity to Circleville, the leadership of the district and having an opportunity to coach again in the Mid-State League Buckeye Division were all aspects Evans cited to the school as reasons for his interest in taking the helm of the Tigers.
“The high school is 13 miles from my house, and I’ve been involved with the MSL for a majority of my life,” he said. “It’s home and I’m familiar with the schools around our area.
“The other major thing Circleville had going for it is the stability of its administration. I worked with assistant superintendent Kyle Uhrig when he was the athletic director and Chris Thornsley has been the high school principal for a number of years.”
Evans takes over a program in the midst of hard times, as the Tigers have won just one game over the last three seasons. He discussed building a culture and belief again in CHS football.
“The kids have to believe in themselves, they have to believe in their teammates and they have to believe in the head coach and the assistant coaches,” Evans said. “I’ve been part of some tough seasons where you are trying to right the ship and kids have to see how much you want them to have success in the weight room, in practice, on game night and obviously in the classroom, and they need to see that from the assistant coaches, as well.
“I’m not coming here to beat my head against the wall and not have success. The objective of the game from pee-wee through the pros is to win, but you also have to put the building blocks in place to make winning a reality, and that’s our job here at Circleville.”
The National Federation of State High School Associations reports that participation in high school football has been on the decline for nearly a decade. Circleville has been no exception to that, as its roster has been under 40 players for the last several seasons. Evans discussed rebuilding interest in the program.
“That’s something we are starting to see in all sports now, not just football, and I’m not sure if it’s coming from specialization or kids just having more things to do now,” he said. “Again, I think it goes back to putting the time and effort in and showing that you have a passion for Circleville football, if you want the kids to have that same heart and passion.
“When the kids are walking in the halls of the high school or hanging out someplace in town, you want people to be talking about Circleville football and having positive things to say about the program.”
Evans discussed what he wants Tiger football to be known for under his leadership, along with his expectations on the field.
“Kids need structure and discipline and that’s what we want to bring,” he said. “We want our kids to play with heart, passion and have a refuse to lose attitude. Even to this day when I play pig with my daughter in the driveway, I don’t want to lose to her. We’re going to be known for our hard work.
“We want to design our offense and defense for what best fits our kids but, defensively, we want 11 guys playing as one, being aggressive, swarming to the football and wanting to hit people. They also have to be tough enough to get hit, because everyone gets hit in football, and then get back up. We’re going to have the same tough mentality on offense and put our kids in position to be successful.”
The Tigers revamped their non-league schedule for 2021, dropping games against former South Central Ohio League rivals Miami Trace and Washington Court House that have traditionally been their first two games of the season. Instead, the Tigers will host Scioto Valley Conference members Huntington in Week 1 and Southeastern in Week 2 before traveling across the Scioto River to close non-league play in Week 3 against Pickaway County rival Westfall.
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