By DEREK TAYLOR
DAILY MAIL PREPS EDITOR
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Former Nitro football coach Scott Tinsley has made a living out of making the most of the opportunities that are presented to him.
Sometimes, in Tinsley’s case, success is best found by also recognizing what is not available. Such a scenario unfolded Tuesday, when Tinsley was approved by the Putnam County Board of Education to become an unpaid assistant and serve as the offensive coordinator for the Hurricane High School football team.
“It feels real good. I’ve been away from the high school game for a few years, and this gives me a chance to get back to doing what I love to do,” Tinsley said Tuesday.
The hiring comes at a somewhat auspicious time for Tinsley. Just one week ago, Pete Thaw was re-elected to the Kanawha County Board of Education. Thaw was instrumental in blocking Tinsley’s appointment to the George Washington High School football coaching staff, where Tinsley would have served in a volunteer capacity as he will at Hurricane, in August 2013.
Numerous members of the George Washington football boosters organization were outspoken in opposition to Thaw’s re-election bid as a result and in hopes of still adding Tinsley to the GW fold. However, Tinsley said the wheels were turning on his marriage to Hurricane well ahead of Election Day, and that development was in part due to his frustration with Kanawha County schools.
“The Kanawha County Board of Education has the power to do whatever it wants to do,” Tinsley said. “Honestly, I just got tired of fighting with them. If something changes with that down the line I might revisit that, if something comes open, but for right now I think the situation with Hurricane is a good one for me and hopefully it’s a good one for Hurricane.”
Jeremy Taylor will enter his third year as the Redskins’ head coach in 2014. With the loss from his staff of defensive coordinator Teddy Stewart, Taylor will switch headsets to serve as Hurricane’s defensive coordinator this year.
Stewart was named the coach at Poca in March.
“He definitely brings a dynamic to Hurricane that we haven’t had in the past,” said Taylor, who was recruited by Tinsley to play at West Virginia State in the mid-90s.
“He’s very good at what he does. If you’ve got a disease you try to go find the best doctor you can find, and he’s the best there is.”
Hurricane hasn’t exactly been diseased when it comes to football, but the Redskins have always had trouble getting over the hump to become one of the state’s premier programs. The school has never reached the playoff semifinals, although it has produced numerous individual players who have led the state in various offensive categories through the years.
Most recently, senior quarterback Austin Hensley was the state’s passing yardage leader in 2013. Still, the team finished 6-5 and lost in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs. Taylor said he hopes Tinsley can affect change in the relationship between impressive statistics and wins.
“You can put up all the stats you want, but it doesn’t mean much without the wins,” Taylor said. “I don’t care if he comes in and our kids blow away every stat we’ve put up in my time here. What we want are more wins, and I think he gives us, and the city of Hurricane and the community a great chance to be more successful.”
Tinsley’s offensive acumen is the stuff of West Virginia prep football legend. As offensive coordinator at Nitro under Robert “Little” Burdette in the 1990s, quarterback J.R. House broke national and state records in numerous categories, and led the Wildcats to the 1998 Class AAA state championship. Nitro’s success continued after Tinsley took over as head coach there in 2002, and the school was 50-21 between then and when he stepped down following the 2007 season, when he was named head coach at WVU Tech.
In Tinsley’s time as head coach at Nitro, the Wildcats produced their second Kennedy Award winner under his tutelage. Running back Josh Culbertson smashed numerous state rushing records in the 2005 season as he led the Wildcats to a Class AAA runner-up finish. Nitro lost in the state championship game to Morgantown in overtime that year.
Since Tinsley left Nitro, the school has won a grand total of eight games in six seasons.
“At Hurricane we ran a version of his offense, but we need to make adjustments to run the whole thing,” Taylor said. “It’s a benefit to have him just because of his personality and how positive he is.
“If you can be positive and dead serious and the same time that’s good, and that’s how he is. He brings out the best in a lot of people he’s around,” Taylor said.
Tinsley said that he has worked with a number of players on the Hurricane roster through off-season private lessons. He stopped short of identifying a potential starter to replace Hensley.
“There’s three or four kids who I think will compete for the job,” Tinsley said. “I think three of them are seniors, but I’ll let Coach Taylor address that when the time comes.”
That revealed another component of the hire that piqued Tinsley’s interest: the ability to focus on what he feels he does best.
“You see head coaches and all the work they’ve got to do with scheduling buses, or dealing with booster groups and things like that,” he said. “It’s a lot of extra work that really doesn’t have anything to do with football. I’m happy when I can concentrate on the Xs and Os.”
Hurricane opens the regular season Aug. 29 at Huntington.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.