By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
Lafayette High School in St. Joseph announced a flurry of new high school coaching hires Wednesday, including new head football coach Ryan Shroyer.
A Lafayette graduate and former Irish football player, Shroyer takes over for Eric McDowell, who is taking an assistant coaching and teaching job at Platte County.
"To be able to come back home and be the head coach of where it all started for me and where I fell in love with the game is just a feeling like no other," Shroyer told The Post. "I coached here at Lafayette as an assistant from 2012-2018, so that's where my coaching got started."
Shroyer was an assistant under McDowell, and was on staff with him during part of Paul Woolard's run as head coach.
"He was a good mentor to me," Shroyer said of McDowell. "He taught me a lot. When he was defensive coordinator, I was his linebackers' coach, so we worked very closely together. He was able to teach me a lot about box play and defensive line play and run fits and all of that."
Woolard, along with another former Irish head football coach Bart Hardy, are both assistant principals at Lafayette. Shroyer said that played a huge role in his decision to come back.
"Being able to come here with two assistant principals that are awesome coaches and they've been there and they get it," Shroyer said. "It's a great situation to be in. So, I'm just super happy. Super excited."
Shroyer comes back after a short stint at Polo as an assistant coach under Kyle Ross.
"He taught me a lot," Shroyer said of Ross. "He was an outstanding boss and friend and mentor. Really going to miss him, his family and the kids there. Also had some really good friends, and it was tough leaving them. But, they're only an hour away and you can bet I'll be back to visit and hang out with them."
After McDowell announced his departure, Lafayette reached out to Shroyer, asking if the head football coach position was of interest to him.
For Shroyer, it was a no-brainer.
"The only thing I would regret is not trying," he said. "The opportunity to be able to come back and be the head coach of a Class 4 football program that's had great tradition and so many coaches and players have worked so hard to build...almost too good to be true. It was non-negotiable. I'd be an idiot not to pursue an opportunity like that."
Shroyer inherits a program that went a combined 16-14 from 2018-2020, including a 4-6 record last fall.
He was also part of a coaching staff that guided Lafayette to three consecutive winning seasons from 2012-2014, and three more from 2016-2018.
With a month-and-a-half to go before the 2021 season, Shroyer is encouraged by what he has to work with, especially the senior class.
"They do a great job," Shroyer said, "and they really, really want to win. They want to be held accountable, and they want to lead. I'm really trying to empower the seniors specifically to lead the team."
After the city jamboree on August 20, the Irish kick off the season the following Friday at Carnahan. They also have away games at Atchison KS, Benton, Central, Chillicothe and Maryville. The Irish have home matchups with MEC rivals Savannah, Cameron and St. Pius X.
Shroyer can't guarantee what Lafayette's record will be in his inaugural season.
"But, I'm going to bring the energy and expectations every day," he said. "We're going to work hard, compete and have fun. We're going to take pride in the school and the program. We're going to leave the weight room clean and take care of our stuff, because this is really good stuff. We need to be proud of our school and of our program."
Additional Lafayette hires
Lafayette also announced the additions of Jason Guthrey, Tyler Meinert, Clint Spencer and Austin Shanks as assistant football coaches.
The school also hired Robin Shaon as the new head cross country coach, Derrick Williams as an assistant boys' basketball coach and Halle Norris as an assistant volleyball coach.
You can follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.