Warrenton Hires New Football Coach

By Derrick Forsythe, Record Sports Editor
Posted 1/6/11

Warrenton High School has chosen a new leader to direct the varsity football team this fall. John Atwell, an offensive line coach at De Smet, will be taking over the Warriors’ vacant head coaching …

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Warrenton Hires New Football Coach


Warrenton High School has chosen a new leader to direct the varsity football team this fall. John Atwell, an offensive line coach at De Smet, will be taking over the Warriors’ vacant head coaching role. He replaces Ken Moore, who is leaving for a similar position at Holt after three years at the helm. “We’re excited to have a new coach on board and to get him into the Warrior Nation,” said Warrenton Activities Director Craig Frazier. “I’m proud and excited to bring anybody new in.” Atwell’s hiring was made official during the school board meeting last Thursday. He has already met many of the players and is anxious to begin camp next week. “I’m very excited,” said the Columbia native. “It’s like a dream to be in a small community atmosphere for Friday night football.” Frazier says the district had 25 applicants for the job. The field was narrowed to four with another round of interviews being performed, before Atwell was eventually chosen based upon his extensive experience, according to Frazier. The final four included two in-house and two external candidates. “It was a real close battle,” noted Frazier. “Basically, we were looking for someone to keep us where we are at but also bring some different ideas in.” Atwell is a 1989 graduate of Hickman High School and earned his degree from Central Methodist University in Fayette. His first coaching role was as an assistant at Hickman. He moved to the St. Louis area in 1996, earning his Master’s Degree in Sports Psychology at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. Atwell then took over as an assistant at Riverview Gardens. He was eventually promoted to head coach, a position he held for three seasons. His tenure at Riverview Gardens ended after the district was forced to lay off a significant portion of its staff. He spent a year as an assistant at St. Charles before taking over offensive line duties at De Smet in 2008.“He’s got a good background of good big schools,” said Frazier.”We wanted someone who could keep the program at the level its at now and help move it toward that next level.” Frazier says he was expecting more applicants but feels the late nature of the opening may have affected the level of interest. “We were looking for a social studies teacher who could be a football coach, so that narrowed the field too,” said Frazier. “In all honesty, we thought we’d have a little more interest than we did. I think the later date hurt us a little bit.” Atwell says he heard about the position from a former colleague and immediately called the school to voice his interest in the opening. “There had been some coaching positions open up, and I wanted to make sure the next time I became a head coach, that it was in the right situation,” said Atwell. “And this is the right situation. I didn’t want to just jump at anything.” Atwell wasn’t employed by Desmet as a teacher, so he was anxious gain full-time employment as a teacher again. He was selected among the final four after his first intervew with principal Jeremy Way and Frazier. “At my initial interview, I saw the facilities and what the boosters have done and realized this was a place that supported athletics,” said Atwell. While Warrenton’s milestone season may have drawn increased interest in the opening, Atwell says that wasn’t the case for him. “What they did last year was a by-product of me applying for this job,” said Atwell. “If they would have gone 0-10 or 5-5, that wasn’t really the issue. One thing it did bring to light was how impressively the community came together during the playoffs.” Atwell says he is familiar with the spread offense Warrenton ran last season and doesn’t plan to make any dramatic changes. “We’re not reinventing the wheel,” said Atwell. “We’re just putting better tread on it.” Atwell will also teach social studies and is already making the transition. Camp begins next week, so the acclamation process will have to be a swift one. He has spent the past week getting acquainted with players and coaches and planning the future of Warrenton football. “The experience factor and the character ideas that’s he’s going to bring to the program are important,” said Frazier. Atwell resides in O’Fallon with his wife and two sons.