After 10 years away from coaching high school football, London High School’s new quarterback coach/offensive coordinator Darrell Mayne is looking forward to that 10-week long game of chess.
“(Coaching an offense) 9s all about creating conflicts in a defense,” said Mayne, who collected over 150 wins as a head coach at West Elyria, Elyria and Upper Arlington (UA). “I’ve really missed that chess match (of pitting your team’s strength against the opponent’s weakness).
“(Being successful on the football field) is all about expanding kids’ comfort zones. It’s an intriguing process, whether it’s at the high school or at Ohio State. That specifically got me back into the game.”
Mayne seems to be off to a good start in restructuring the team’s offense. Mayne said the team will run a multiple offense that can spread the field but also has the ability to come right at opponents physically.
In a season opening 42-30 win over Urbana Friday, Aug. 28, the Red Raiders ran over the Hilltoppers. Running back Michael Johnson rushed for 284 yards and had touchdown runs of 58, 72, 10 and 30 yards. The win was the Red Raiders’ first season opening win since it defeated Urbana 28-20 in 2009.
In 2014, London, which lost to Urbana 43-17 in last year’s season opener, averaged 17.1 points a game and only breached the 40-point mark once (in a 47-7 win over first-year program Worthington Christian) while finishing 2-8 overall.
Head coach Kyle Cutler said it was hard to pinpoint just one thing what Mayne, who guided UA to the Division I state title with a 15-0 record and was named the Nike Ohio coach of the year and the American Football Monthly Magazine East Region Coach of the Year in 2000, adds to his team.
Walking the walk
“The guy’s just a winner,” Cutler said. “He brings a lot of insight, experience and wisdom to the table. With me being a defensive guy, we complement each other. I’ll say ‘If we had done this (to one of Mayne’s teams), what would you countered with?’ He gives me a good sounding board.
“But the biggest thing is he’s a man of character. In this profession, there are a lot of guys who say the right thing but don’t always do it. Coach Mayne talks the talk and walks the walk.”
Cutler first met Mayne when the London coach was still in middle school. Cutler’s older brother Joel was an assistant at UA and Kyle would tag along with him on scouting trips during the Bears’ playoff runs.
The summer before he left to play football at Bowling Green State University, Kyle trained with UA to get ready for the transition to the Division I collegiate level in 2003. That strengthened his friendship with Mayne.
“Training with guys like Simon Fraser (a UA graduate who played Ohio State’s 2002 national championship team) and Jeff Backes (a UA graduate who was a running back at Northwestern) was a real eye opener,” Kyle said. “You’d look around the weight room and there’d be (former Ohio State wide receiver) Joey Galloway working out. That really got me ready for the next level.
“When I became the coach at London, it wasn’t like I called him out of the blue and said you want to come over and coach? There was a real friendship there. I’m so thankful he came over to help us out.”
A heart for kids
Mayne said the reason why he started coaching and teaching mathematics was a passion to work with high school students. That was also the reason why he decided to return to the gridiron after being away for nearly a decade.
After retiring from Upper Arlington in 2004, he spent six years as the athletic director at Harvest Prep. In 2010, he was hired as academic specialist for the Ohio State University football team by former coach Jim Tressel.
“I want to have an impact on young kids; football and teaching just happen to be the vehicle I use to do it,” Mayne said. “I told people I’ve taught and coached for 35 years but I feel like I’ve never had a job. I feel very blessed by God to have the opportunities I’ve had.”
Originally, Cutler’s plan was to have Mayne help out with the offense during preseason training and practices last year. Mayne enjoyed working with the Red Raiders so much last summer, so when Kyle offered him the offensive coordinator position, he jumped at the chance.
“One of the reasons why I decided to come back was these kids,” Mayne said. “These are some of the greatest kids I’ve ever been around. They take a challenge and work at it.”
Cutler wants Mayne to bring that “state championship perspective” he had at Upper Arlington to London. The Red Raiders reached the Division III state semifinal once, losing to eventual runner-up Clyde 42-24 in 1994.
One of the first steps to building a perennial powerhouse, according to Mayne, is getting the team to dream big.
“All people have dreams but sometimes they see them as merely dreams. They don’t see the dream as an attainable goal,” Mayne said. “(In 2000) we had kids who believed in that vision and a school and a community that believed that dream was attainable.
“Let me brag on Kyle a little bit. He’s one of the best young head football coaches in the state. He has a great vision for London football and a great heart for these kids. One day he’s going to win a state championship here.”
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