LIBERTY, Ohio (WKBN) – New Liberty head coach Joe Simon is a Leopard through and through.
“There is a bond that you have with this town, with this city,” Simon said. “It means a lot because I am a Liberty guy. I was born and raised here, I graduated here in 2000, I played Little League football here. The families that I know, the community, it means so much to me.”
Simon took over the Liberty program this past off-season after being a longtime assistant coach at several schools throughout the area.
One of his first orders of business is building trust.
“That is the biggest part of becoming a new coach is building trust,” Simon said. “The sooner they can trust me, the sooner we can trust them — the faster we are going to progress as a team.”
“I love the football again,” said senior Jadan Townsend. “I used to not love it. Last year it was a bad season, and now since Coach Simon and the rest of the coaches came, I love football again.”
The Leopard alum knows how to bring some motivation to the table.
“Since he got here, he was out here lifting with us, running with us,” said fellow senior Donte Venters. “We are just ready to get going, man. Makes me want to step up more because I don’t want my coach to beat me in a sprint. So when we went to camp, he beat me in a push-up challenge. I told him you will never beat me again coach.”
It might be Simon’s first year in charge of a high school football team but his coaching tree that he is a part of is quite impressive here in the Valley. Serving as an assistant under Jeff Whittaker at Liberty and Steve Arnold at Warren Harding.
“I do not think there is a better program to learn from than Warren G. Harding,” Simon said. “Because football is huge out in Warren. And Steve, it means a lot to him. More than I can explain in words. He is so organized. Jeff Whittaker was a big influence for me as well. I played for him, coached with him for four years — huge influence in my life.”
Simon will learn from the team’s experience in his first year, welcoming back 20 seniors — Donte Venters, Jadan, Jordan Townsend and an experienced offensive line.
“I believe this year, we have an amazing group of guys. I believe we can really do something special this year,” Venters said.
“We need to work as a team,” Townsend said. “That is number one because, you know, some plays you fall down but have to pick them right back up. I think we can go undefeated, I mean, why not?”