By David Fong
Reginal Sports Editor
TROY — The allure of coaching a legendary program in a powerhouse conference proved too much for Ryan Jones to resist.
Jones, the Troy Christian football head coach the past three seasons, announced Tuesday he was leaving Troy Christian to become the head coach at Versailles High School, which plays in the Midwestern Athletic Conference. Jones was expected to be formally approved at a Tuesday evening board of education meeting. He’ll be the high school football coach and have a teaching position within the district.
“When I saw this opportunity come available, I spent some time thinking about it, praying about it and talking to my wife about it,” Jones said. “Versailles is a great football community. They’ve got a great tradition and they play in a great conference against great competition. I felt like this was an opportunity that may not come along too often, so it was one that I needed to pursue. I felt better and better every time I met with the people from Versailles and felt like it was a place I wanted to be. It was everything I could ask for and an opportunity I wanted to take.”
Jones will replace Adam Miller, who went 30-32 in seven seasons leading the Tigers, leading the team to a playoff berth in 2014. Last season, Versailles went 2-8, its worst season since 2008.
Still, though, Versailles is one of the most-decorated football programs in the state of Ohio, having won six state titles, finishing as state runner-up three times and making the state semifinals 12 times. The Tigers achieved their greatest success playing under program icon Al Hetrick, who coached the team for 37 years before retiring in 2003. The Tigers play in the MAC, which has combined to win 33 state football titles since 1973.
“When you are talking about Ohio high school football, I don’t think you can do it without talking about the MAC,” Jones said. “I think, pound-for-pound, it’s probably the best conference in the state.”
While Jones said he’s looking forward to taking over at Versailles, he’s said it’s going to be difficult leaving Troy Christian, where he’s spent the past five seasons coaching, the first two as an assistant coach under Steve Nolan and the past three as the head coach.
“The toughest part is going to be leaving the people at Troy Christian,” he said. “The kids have been tremendous. The coaching staff we’ve had has been great. The administration has been really supportive; I’ve really enjoyed working with (athletic director) Jeff Sakal. Steve Nolan was great, giving me a chance to be a part of his staff and then eventually take over the program when he retired.
“I’m really going to miss the players and coaches. We’ve had a great group of kids who worked their butts off for us and did everything we asked them to do. They were high-quality kids and I’m going to miss working with them. I felt like we were able to accomplish a lot.”
Jones went 22-9 as head coach — 9-2 in 2016, 5-5 in 2017 and 8-2 last fall. He led Troy Christian to a state ranking and a Division VII regional playoff berth in his first season as head coach.
“On behalf of the Troy Christian Schools, I want to thank Coach Jones for his servant leadership for our ministry,” Sakal said. “Ryan has been a great addition to our staff as a teacher and as a head football coach in that he shares the same philosophy, values and beliefs to carry out the mission of our school district.
“Coach Jones is an outstanding football coach who can coach both sides of the football. His professional development and experiences, having coached at the collegiate level and high school level, are assets that make him an extremely effective and successful coach. Coach Jones is an effective leader with a big heart that conducts himself with morals, character and integrity. He believes that teaching life lessons and preparing his students and athletes to become productive, responsible citizens and our future leaders of tomorrow is extremely important.”
Sakal said Troy Christian will soon begin its search for its next head coach.
“We will post our head football coach position and start the application process soon,” he said. “We will need to move quickly to fill the void, however, we do not want to make a hasty decision. The team will continue with its offseason strength and conditioning program under the direction of (strength and conditioning coach Mick Roberts) and our current staff. We need to keep moving forward and there is still work to be done.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong