New Drexel head football coach Steve Cozad knows a little something about turning an unsuccessful football team into a winning program.
But luckily for Cozad, he is coming into success, thanks to former head coach Nate Danneman.
Danneman accepted the head football coach position at West Platte High School for next season and leaves behind, after two years at the reins of Bobcat football, a 17-4 record and back-to-back Western Missouri Conference titles.
“We are excited,” Cozad said. “This is truly the first opportunity we have had to go into the school where the kids already know how to win. Our focus can be on taking that to the next level and being able to put the fundamentals both in the weight room with the way we teach explosive lifting and the fundamentals we teach in blocking and tackling on the football field together to make us even better than they have already been.”
After taking a two-year break from coaching football where Cozad tried to get into the fitness business, he realized he missed the gridiron too much.
“I tried to get into the fitness business and although it was fun, it was not the same as coaching,” Cozad said. “I missed coaching too much and wanted a chance to come back.”
Cozad brought along with him assistant coach Ryan Hoden.
“I prefer small schools and the Drexel opportunity came up and they also had an elementary PE position open and my friend and defensive coordinator (Hoden) at another school was available,” Cozad said. “He is probably the best offensive line coach I’ve ever had. The chance to bring him with me was a great opportuntity for us here at Drexel.”
Cozad, who has 20 years of coaching experience, has turned around four programs. The most recent was in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he took Thomas Jefferson, a team that hadn’t seen more than five wins in a season since the 1970s, to a conference championship his first year as head coach. It was the most wins the football team had brought home since 1977.
Before that, Cozad coached at Washington, Kan., another team that hadn’t won more than five games since the 1970s, and by the second year, the team had won eight games back-to-back, a program first, along with their school’s first football playoff victory. He also coached at Rock Port in Missouri and at Lyons-Decatur in Nebraska.
“We took over programs that were really down and we made it to the playoffs at every school within the first year,” Cozad said. “This is the first time we have ever taken over a school that already has a winning tradition. We are excited to be involved with athletes of this caliber right off the bat. We have to do less teaching how to win and we can focus more on fundamentals, which we started in the weight room today and we are continuing right here on the football field.”
Cozad is married to Brenda and they have four grown children, Amanda, Megan, Stephanie and Zane, who attends Kansas State University. The couple also raised two other children, Lewis Dunkeson, a teacher and football coach in the Nevada School District, and Winston Norris, who just competed basic training and Advanced Indivdualized Training in the Army. Cozad also has four grandchildren.