Adams led Kenston to a 6-4 slate last season, and in 2005 just missed taking the Bombers to the playoffs by a mere percentage point. Prior to that he took a listless Columbia team and lead them not only to a playoff appearance, but also a 25-17 record, including a conference championship.
While a proven winner in his eight years of coaching, more important is the fact he is described as a players coach – meaning he has the respect of his players, the school and community.
“I think I relate well to the kids, and I guess I am what you would call a players coach,” said Adams. “I don't spit and yell or demean the kids. I work very hard with my kids to develop relationships, where by listening, you can learn.”
Former Kenston player R.J. Safranek perhaps says it best.
“We will all greatly miss Coach Adams – he is a great coach and has a great philosophy on life,” said Safranek in a tribute to Adams on the Kenston athletic site. “On behalf of the Bomber Football Family and the Community of Kenston, we wish Coach Adams the best of luck in his new home, and we hope they appreciate him just as much as we have these past four years. “
Adams, 37, admitted that while excited, it was a very difficult decision to leave Kenston. The biggest factor being location.
“It happened very fast, but it feels good to be in Rocky River,” said Adams. “It's very tough to leave Kenston, you put your heart and soul into the program, especially leaving the seniors who you have watched grow from eighth grade. I feel I left the program in good shape, again it was very tough. But my wife and I are both from the west side of Cleveland, and we wanted to keep our family in that area. So that was the main factor in my leaving Kenston. I'm excited about this opportunity.”
Adams takes the helm of a program that saw great strides under former mentor Ron Lewis, who left to take the head job at his Alma mater Lakewood. Under Lewis, Rocky River was 37-26, including back to back West Shore Conference titles the past two years. The Pirates had never made the playoffs prior to the Lewis era, but that drought ended in 2006, and last year the team won its first ever post season game over Hubbard.
“I know they had a very good year, but lose about 25 kids,” said Adams. “My nephew plays for Trinity, so I was at a couple of those games and saw them play. I also know some of the teams in the conference from my days at Columbia. Right now, I'm trying to take that first step in learning about the kids, and assembling a coaching staff.”
The Pirates do graduate a number of key players this year, including quarterback Andy Breidigam, running backs Jon Gipson and David Dunne, wideouts Adam Brinkman and Bobby Fitzsimmons, who also was a stalwart on defense, along with record breaking kicker Tyler Sperli.
Despite that fact, the cupboard is not bare, as one of the more dynamic players in Northeast Ohio returns in Zach Youseff, a runningback/linebacker.
“A lot of people have said why would you take the job, they don't have anyone coming back,” said Adams. “Well. I like challenges, and Ron Lewis left this program in good shape. I know we have a talented running back coming back, and I think now the key is to try to motivate the seniors.”
If there is one thing about Adams over the years, it's the fact he has adjusted his offensive schemes to the talent he has.
“I think the approach you have going into it, is everything,” said Adams. “You need to be firm, but fair. I don't try to be Woody Hayes, you have to lighten things up. I ran into Ron Lewis at a coaching clinic recently, and I don't think I'm too different than him in regards to the type of scheme we'll run. I think I'm flexible, and can adjust to the talent we have.
One thing Adams does have going for him, in addition to a winning tradition, is the fact defensive coordinator Mark Wagner will return.
“I've already met with him, and he's a very energetic and enthusiastic guy,” said Adams. ” I'm looking forward to working with him. That's important to have the type of passion he has for the kids. We'll mesh our coaching styles and philosophies together. I'm looking forward to that.”
Adams will teach social studies at the school.