Ever since Kevin Steiner, 33, of Wichita was a sophomore at Centre High School, he knew he wanted to be a coach. He credits his football coach, the late Bud Peterson, for setting an example for him to follow.
“Coach Peterson established a program of winning, and winning made the game fun,” Steiner said.
He was a senior on the 1997 Centre Cougars football team that won the 1A state championship. He now is in his second year as the head coach at Wichita South High School, a 6A school.
Wichita South is one of nine schools in the City League. Steiner said football at a 6A school isn’t that much different from a 1A school like Centre.
“At the end of the day, it’s still a game that kids play with passion,” he said. “I find a lot more similarities than differences.”
He said proportionately speaking, a similar percentage of students go out for football. In 2012-13, Wichita South had an official enrollment of 1,485. Centre had 91 students and 20 players on its football team. Steiner has a squad of 100 players and eight assistants.
He took over the program in June 2012 from Cody Brack, a former Tabor College football player. Several key players were knocked off the team by injuries that summer and early fall, and the team finished with a record of 1-8.
This year, Steiner has brought in almost a completely new coaching staff in an effort to turn the program around. Offensive coordinator Bob Ray was a student teacher at Centre when Steiner was a sophomore. Ray has a lot of experience in coaching, including at Hope and McPherson College.
Travis Graber, the defensive coordinator, is a former Bethel College coach. Another assistant played for the University of Kansas and has a brother who is playing for the Dallas Cowboys.
“I’m excited,” Steiner said. “We’re doing things to build a strong program. We’re putting in place a systematic style of football. The players and coaches have high energy as they look forward to the season.”
Steiner named Bishop Carroll and Wichita Heights as his toughest opponents in the City League. Heights recently played in the 6A state championship game for three consecutive years, winning it once.
South High does not have a winning tradition, but he hopes to change that.
“We have our work cut out for us, but that’s exciting because we get to establish something that the school hasn’t seen for a long, long time,” he said.
Steiner was in the fifth grade when his football coach, Stan Wiles, now the Centre High School football coach, took the team to the state championship. They took second place, and from then on, he said, they were determined to win a state championship. He said Wiles helped them to fulfill their dream by teaching the fundamentals and keeping them focused on their goal.
“Coach Wiles kept us on the straight and narrow,” he said.
After high school graduation, Steiner played football as a running back at McPherson College and was an all-conference player all four years. He earned a degree in elementary education with an emphasis in special education. He currently is co-chairman of the special education department at Wichita South.
Steiner was an assistant coach for two years at McPherson College after his graduation. He moved to Wichita, where he got married and had several teaching and coaching positions before becoming an assistant coach at South High for three years.