LYONS — There is a new man at the helm of the Lyons High School football program for the first time in 16 years, and his name is Brandon Wilkes.
With the new hire, Wilkes will make a return to Colorado prep football.
Wilkes was head coach at Maur Hill-Mount Academy, a Catholic boarding school in Kansas City, Mo., for two years. Before that, he served as an assistant in Colorado at both Cedaredge and North Park.
While at Maur Hill-Mount Academy, Wilkes took over a football program on a 32-game losing streak. His first year the Ravens went 2-7 and they went 4-5 his second season.
“It was awesome to go from the bottom and to see that in a short period of time,” Wilkes said.
Originally from Michigan, he spent a lot of time in Colorado as a kid. He played two years at Rock Valley Junior College in Rockford, Ill., where he was a junior college All-American running back.
He then played two more years at Avila University in Kansas City, to which he returned to coach the running backs for several seasons.
With a wealth of coaching experiences, Wilkes said he is most excited about the Lyons job because of the program’s outstanding reputation.
“From my previous experience in Colorado and knowing about the Colorado football scene, I knew Lyons was a powerhouse and an opportunity to step in to a program and have a lot of the pieces there already,” Wilkes said.
Wilkes said the move back to Colorado, specifically to the Boulder County area, worked for his family. He and his wife spent the day Wednesday looking for houses. They’re currently staying with Lyons athletics director Kathy Leiding, who is happy to have finally settled the long search for a new coach.
Wilkes replaces John Nichols, who resigned in February after 16 seasons to take a leave of absence from teaching and coaching.
“We put together an interview committee of parents, players, other coaches, the district athletic director and myself,” Leiding said. “It seems like forever ago.”
Leiding said the search committee had a lot of applicants from outside the state of Colorado. They went through about 20 resumes and interviewed six candidates based on their resumes and experience. They then narrowed it down to two finalists.
Her primary focus, Leiding said, was finding someone with head coaching experience and who is also a teacher. Wilkes, who is already certified to teach social studies in Colorado, fit the bill.
“John was so instrumental in creating the incredible weight room we have now,” Leiding said. “Fundraising and putting that whole thing together really was his brainchild. John did some really incredible things but I also know that when you get to that point in career and you want to do something different, all you can hope for is someone who comes in and injects something new into the program.”
Wilkes met with the principal of Lyons High School Wednesday morning and held a meeting with the team that evening.
Follow Brad on Twitter: @BradCochi