Legends lining the sidelines at Gibsonburg

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

Joe Wyant is known in the area for coaching football at Gibsonburg, being the head softball coach at Eastwood and, until recently, as the head wrestling coach for the Eagles, too.
His list of assistant football coaches is quite impressive, starting with Eastwood legend Jerry Rutherford, who brings with him over four decades of experience. Wyant was an assistant to Rutherford for years with the Eagles. Glenn Owens, who coached the Golden Bears from 2003-05, is another assistant that brings three decades of experience, and Kory Conrad, the former head coach at Danbury, is another assistant that’s been in the coaching ranks for 20 years.
The two “youngsters” on the staff, Gibsonburg alums Brian Krotzer and Hunter Smith bring with them 11 years of combined coaching experience.
Wyant is also the offensive coordinator, Owens is the defensive coordinator, Rutherford coaches the offensive line, Conrad coaches the defensive backs and split ends, Krotzer is the defensive line coach and Smith coaches running backs and linebackers.
Wyant talked about his relationships with the assistants and what they bring to the table.
“Glenn and I have been around for a while. I helped him get a job at Eastwood. He was the offensive line coach at Eastwood until after the state runner-up year in 2017, and then he came back to Gibsonburg. He was the offensive coordinator for Mike Lee, and in my first year at Gibsonburg, Glenn was the offensive coordinator again. I left him there because he did a great job. He’s the defensive coordinator now, but I take a lot of advice on him on offense. Obviously, during game situations, if Glenn’s got something he wants to run, I take his advice without hesitation,” said Wyant. “I was Jerry’s defensive coordinator in my first years there at Eastwood, and then Craig Rutherford came in and took over. As far as studying film, Jerry watches more film than anyone I know.
“Kory, the kids love him. He’s Mr. Positivity. Hunter, I coached him for a year in high school. Hunter was a great kid, just like his two brothers are. Brian coached with me for two to three years at Lakota, and he graduated from Gibsonburg. He’s done a great job for me, too.”
Wyant coached at Eastwood from 2005-19, and before that, under another legend in Oak Harbor’s Gary Quisno. Before coming to Oak Harbor, Wyant was a jack-of-all trades, serving as the head coach at Lakota for the football, wrestling and softball teams in the 1990s. He coached at Oak Harbor from 2002-04. In his first year, the Rockets, led by All-Ohio running back and two-time state wrestling champion J.D. Bergman, won a Sandusky Bay Conference title and advanced to the Division IV regional semifinals.
Some of the younger players that Wyant coached, like Jake Lipstraw, Aaron McCune and Kirk Tank, would headline the 2006 team that won a Division IV regional championship and fell just short of reaching the state final. Wyant became the Eastwood wrestling coach at Eastwood in 2001, and it made for an unusual situation coaching different sports at two different schools.
“I learned a ton from Gary Quisno; he’s a class act. It was really hard to tell him I wasn’t coming back, but it was the wrestling thing,” said Wyant. “I got to know Jerry, started coaching football, and wrestling worked out well and I got the softball job a few years after that.”
Wyant also coached with John McAllister at Lakota, and later with Jack Burgess. Burgess, who has since passed away, came up with the idea for the Suburban Lakes League-Sandusky Bay Conference All-Star Game while McAllister, who left coaching decades ago, now publishes the McAllister Scouting Report, which evaluates high school football players for colleges looking to recruit. He is a friend to many coaches in high school and the collegiate ranks. As for practice, Wyant, a Lakota alum, said that Mondays include the primary focus being on offense and installing new things with Tuesdays being a defensive day and the last 30 minutes focusing on pass plays. On Wednesday, the team goes “full on” and focuses on the plays the offense is going to run and how it will disguise the scheme that was implemented on Monday. For the last 20 minutes or so, the defense will engage in preparation. Thursday includes special teams practicing and a walk-through. The coaches try to have practice finished by 4:30 before the team feed.
Friday is game day, and on Saturday, the varsity players come in and watch film and then clean up the locker room. The coaches then meet for a short period of time and convene on Sunday evening to plan for the week.


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