Friday’s football games

Bend at North Medford, 7 p.m.

Grants Pass at Mountain View, 7 p.m.

Newberg at Summit, 7 p.m.

Redmond at North Eugene, 7 p.m.

Ridgeview at Ashland, 7 p.m.

Crook County at Sisters, 7 p.m.

Rainier at Madras, 7 p.m.

Burns at La Pine, 7 p.m.

Culver at Gervais, 7 p.m.

Powers at Gilchrist, 4 p.m.

Brent Wasche has spent most of his football coaching career in Texas. And perhaps no other state, where football is the absolute epicenter of sports, could better prepare somebody to become a head football coach.

But Wasche — the new coach at Redmond High School — credits his time as an infantryman in the Marines the most for helping guide him as a coach.

“To be 100 percent honest, and this is not just lip service, man, I learned more in the Marine Corps than I did from any other experience in my life,” Wasche says. “In the Marine Corps, that’s where I learned about leadership, about dealing with people, about overcoming adversity and powering through tough situations. I’ve tried my best to apply it to working with kids now.”

Perhaps that is why Wasche is approaching his first head football coaching gig as the head of, as he describes it, a “leadership academy that plays football.”

“We want to teach these kids that football is essentially a metaphor for life,” says Wasche, 38. “As coaches, if we’re not intentionally trying to build character in these young men then we’re doing our job wrong. We’ve installed a system of core values for the kids.”

Wasche, also a science and PE teacher at Redmond High, played his high school football in Richland, Texas, then went on to play offensive line at NCAA Division II Texas A&M University-Commerce. When the head coach there was fired, Wasche says he decided to join the Marines, with whom he says he served from 1999 to 2003. After leaving the Marines, he says, he did contract work for about a year in Iraq, working directly with the U.S. Army during the war there.

After his time overseas, he knew he still had some football left, so he played as on offensive lineman for the NCAA Division I University of North Texas before embarking on his high school coaching career in Texas. He coached at several different schools, serving as a defensive coordinator, linebackers coach and special teams coach.

“I’ve been kind of fortunate,” Wasche says. “I’ve worked with some awesome people. Texas is a state where football is first and foremost when it comes to athletics. You get to work for head coaches who invest a lot of time in their assistants. So I’ve had some awesome mentors coming up. I’m glad I got to do that but when I look over at those Sisters mountains and I get to float the river, I’m happy I’m livin’ in Oregon.”

One significant difference between high school football in Texas and Oregon, Wasche notes, is that Texas schools offer an “athletic period,” in which, in lieu of PE, students can register for a class in one of the sports in which they compete.

That means football coaches can work with their players virtually year-round, Wasche says.

“So having that and getting to lift weights with your kids and utilize your time to teach offensive schemes is amazingly helpful,” Wasche says. “Here (in Oregon) you really have to maximize every minute you get with these guys in the spring, summer and fall … it’s my goal for those guys to leave football and still be coached (in other sports). In Texas, you’re coaching them year-round. Here, I really want those guys to play basketball, wrestle, or run track, so that they’re staying competitive and they’re staying in a sport.”

Wasche is the third head coach in three seasons for the Panthers. Gene Dales led the team to a 1-8 season in 2017. Before that, Nathan Stanley led Redmond to consecutive appearances in the Class 5A state quarterfinals before leaving to become athletic director at Cleveland High in Portland.

The Panthers are 1-1 this season, having dropped their first Class 5A Special District 2 game to Eagle Point 40-8 last Friday. Redmond plays at North Eugene Friday night.

“So far, we’re right on track,” Wasche says. “I’m really happy where the kids are, and happy with the effort and the turnout. The kids are putting in a ton of hard work, man, and I’m pretty confident that we’ve got a lot of wins ahead of us. Our goal is hands down to make the playoffs. When you look at our division, I think we’ll be right in the hunt for one of those spots.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0318,