New coach brings fresh approach for Seymour football program


In his first season at the helm, Seymour High School football coach Mike Kelly has made his expectations clear from the start of the summer.

“I told them that my expectation during the summer time is that if they’re in town, they’re here,” Kelly said.

The Owls are wrapping up their third week of workouts today at Bulleit Stadium and have had anywhere from 47 to 72 athletes per session ranging from ninth to 12th grade.

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Kelly’s practices start at 6:30 a.m. and typically go until around 10:30, expect on days when they wear pro pads.

He said that the senior group has helped in the transition.

“Our seniors know how to work,” Kelly said. “The first and most important thing in a program is developing a work ethic. I think our kids have a good work ethic. They understand the importance of being a part of the program and doing the things that it takes to be successful.”

Right now, one of the big focuses for Kelly is implementing his schemes: notably a pro-style offense.

While there are challenges, the players are enjoying the new system.

“It has been awesome learning the news plays and getting to know the coaches,” Owls senior receiver Max Otte said. “The offense, we’re not set on one side. I feel like passing will be a big strength and running will be too.”

While some of the players are still learning the terminology of the offense, Kelly’s sticking to the plan.

“We’re going to stick with the scheme,” Kelly said. “There are a lot of different personnel groups. They first need to understand what we need to do formationally — we don’ have just one formation.

“Some of the terms, they’re not accustomed to. I learned quickly that I need to explain to them what I need from that standpoint. That was a little bit of the learning process from a coaching standpoint. You’re at one place (Fishers) for nine years and then come somewhere new and expect them to know some of those terms. They don’t, and that’s OK. It’s a growing process.”

While most of the coaching positions are filled, the Owls still are finishing up their process of hiring a defensive coordinator.

“Right now I have one coaching spot still available and we’re moving closely to filling that position,” Kelly said. “Our new guys are Ed Wagner, who is a longtime coach who has spent time at Milan and Bedford North Lawrence. (Former head) coach (Jeff) Richey also has come out and helped us with our quarterbacks. It’s been a pleasure to have him out here working on footwork, drop-backs and things like that.”

Senior strong safety Alex Holt said the transitions this year are going well.

“It has been a lot different,” he said. “We lost some good coaches and some really good friends, but coach Kelly has been really great. I love his new offense and defense and the way he emphasizes things. He takes things seriously, and we’re all getting closer each day.”

Coming off their first winning season since 2005, going 8-4 in 2017, the Owls are eager to get back on the field.

“You see guys around here that have been here since freshman year,” Owls senior receiver/corner Scotty Nieves said. “Even though the seniors left, we still talk with them. We have some new guys and we’re making them our brothers, too.”

The Owls will not compete in an 11-on-11 or 7-on-7 camp this summer.

“The (camp) we were interested in wanted to go in early June and then work on themselves in July,” Kelly said. “We needed to work on ourselves in June. It just wasn’t beneficial to the program at the time to go and compete at a 7-on-7, 11-on-11.”

Team camp will take place the week of July 17 and be hosted on campus. The past few years, the team went off the grid for a camp by Mitchell.

“Our team camp is going to be very similar to our first week of two-a-days,” Kelly said. “We’re going to come in and have position meetings. We’re going to have special teams at the beginning of practice and then get into a regular practice schedule. We’re not doing an all-day or all-nighter, it’s going to be more like an extended practices. ‘Chalk it, talk it, walk it, run it,’ to quote coach (John) Goodman’s phrase.”

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