Under a scorching late-afternoon sun, Seth Womack stood in the center of the grass practice field where he could survey all the separate groups of players doing drills on the first day of football workouts at Redmond High.
“Nobody should be walking! Let’s go!” he yelled, no doubt echoing his coaching counterparts on gridirons across the state Monday on the official opening day of practices for all OSAA fall sports.
Taking a job as the head football coach at a Class 5A high school just a month before the season starts might not be the easiest situation, but Womack is taking it in stride.
“It hasn’t been as difficult as some might think,” Womack said. “Brent Wasche did a great job laying a solid foundation, and then to build with that, he had a great staff.”
Womack, 39, was named the Panthers’ head coach on July 18, shortly after Wasche left for a teaching and coaching job in Port Angeles, Washington, after just one year in Redmond. Most of the assistant coaches have stayed on, and on Monday they went to work with the linemen, defense and running backs as Womack observed.
After six seasons as the football coach at Eagle Point, Womack took over for his friend Wasche in Redmond only a few weeks ago.
“If I had not known the situation coming in I would have been a lot more nervous and a lot more concerned, but I did know kind of what to expect going into this and knew the status and the state of the program that he had left,” Womack said. “It’s made it a lot easier.”
Womack inherits a Panthers program coming off a 2-7 season that included a 1-4 record in the Class 5A SD2 North division. Last year, Eagle Point was 6-3 overall and 2-3 in the 5A SD2 South, a record that included a 40-8 victory over Redmond in early September.
An Illinois native, Womack played football at NCAA Division III Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. His playing career included two seasons as a lineman with a professional indoor football team in Missouri.
Still built like a lineman, Womack — whose wife’s parents have lived in Redmond for six years — talked about his decision to come to Redmond.
“I came up here on vacation, and I haven’t left,” he said of his early-July trip to Central Oregon. “I met with Brent and he told me he was leaving. And I had applied (for the Redmond head coach position) the year before.”
Womack will also serve as the new dean of student success at Redmond High.
Though it has been a quick transition on a compressed timeline, Womack said he has been helped by his assistant coaches and a healthy number of returning seniors.
“We’ve got a good bunch of guys that have stayed on and really kept things moving when Brent had to take his other job,” Womack said. “And we’ve got great kids that have showed up to work every day to lift and really have put a lot of time in to make themselves better players. So, for the circumstances, it’s been a pretty smooth transition.”
This week of daily doubles for the Panthers includes weightlifting in the mornings and then practice in the evenings. Last week, Womack held a minicamp during which he said he installed much of the offense and defense.
“We’re going to make some tweaks to the defense, and the offense a little bit,” Womack said. “I’m not going to make any wholesale changes because I believe in what Brent was doing, and our staff.”
Womack said the 2019 Panthers will have more of a spread look on offense but will still be a run-focused team, anchored by a stable of returning senior running backs: Jack McKenzie, Colt Folston, Henry Chambers and Andrew McKague. Senior Cooper Browning is returning at wide receiver.
“I want to see our kids have a great experience this year,” Womack said. “We have a good group of seniors. They need to have a good year and a good experience going out, these seniors, they deserve it. I don’t want to say we need to win eight or nine games to have a successful year. I think each of those kids have an idea of what they want to get out of their senior year.”
The first contests on the OSAA fall sports calendar are scheduled for Aug. 29. Redmond hosts a football jamboree on Aug. 30. The opening games for most football teams in Oregon are set for Sept. 6, when the Panthers will play a nonleague game at St. Helens.
— Reporter: 541-383-0318,