The football principal; New coach hoping to grow Hayfield football program

Published 8:14 pm Wednesday, August 15, 2018

HAYFIELD — It didn’t take the Hayfield football team very long to get accustomed to their new head football coach. After all, they’ve been seeing him in the hallways for the past seven years.

Hayfield High School Assistant Principal John Howe has taken over as the Vikings head coach and he’s looking to get the program on track after it struggled with numbers and went 0-9 overall last season.

Howe has 24 years of coaching experience and he served as Hayfield’s defensive coordinator a few years ago. He’s coached with winning programs and programs that are rebuilding.

Hayfield quarterback Jake Risius makes a throw in practice in Hayfield Wednesday. Rocky Hulne/

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I’ve seen a lot of programs and I’ve seen the continuity of what success brings. In every school, commitment looks a little different, but in a nutshell, it’s selling out for your teammates and these guys demand commitment from each other, but they don’t have to yell it,” Howe said. “They’re doing it the right way.”

After being so short on players last year they had to forfeit a game, the Vikings have seen a burst in participation this fall. There are nearly 40 players on the roster this season after the team was in the low 20s last year. That will give Hayfield a chance to bring back a JV program.

Howe said it helps that most of the varsity coaching staff is returning and they’ve done a solid job of going out and getting students to commit to football.

Every school has those guys that play football, but they just don’t come out until somebody asks them,” Howe said. “The coaching staff did that. They lived with the down numbers last year and they went out convinced kids to be a part of this. Success comes with numbers sometimes.”

Hayfield senior Tristan Rieken said it’s taken a little time to adjust to Howe as the head coach, but it’s been working out well so far.

It’s not like he’s somebody we don’t know, he’s our principal,” Rieken said. “It’s a little different having your principal as a coach, but we know who he is and what he expects out of us. That helps a lot.”

Howe is used to to maintaining the balance of being a coach and an educator.

Hayfield head coach John Howe works with the Vikings in practice in Hayfield Wednesday. Rocky Hulne/

“Being tied in with these kids at the school in my role helps with the bridge sometimes, but at the same time they realize ‘now the principal’s correcting me on the field.’ They’ve got to put that coach hat on me and not the principal hat,” he said. “But it’s the same mentoring and the same connections.”

As the Vikings take the field this fall, Howe is certain the team will have plenty of community support throughout the year.

“This community supports these kids left and right,” Howe said. “When they come out here they know they’re supported by the staff and they’re supported by their parents and the community and they can thrive.”