North Medford High wrestling coach Phillip Lopez isn't the type to get carried away.
EAGLE POINT — Confident in the hiring process and excited about the future of the football program at Eagle Point High, Eagles Athletic Director Bryan Wood announced recently that the school has tabbed Seth Womack as its new head coach.
Womack, who hails from Missouri, accepted the job last week and began his journey to Oregon on Tuesday with pregnant wife Alyssa, a U-Haul truck full of belongings and high hopes for his debut as a high school head coach.
"I'm very excited," Womack said Thursday en route to an overnight stay in Winnemucca, Nev. "We really fell in love with the school and the town when we were last there and it felt really right for us to make this move. For my wife and I, every day approaching our departure date the anticipation kept growing and growing for us."
Womack said he expects to arrive in Eagle Point tonight, and is looking forward to hitting the ground running to make up for lost time since football teams were able to start spring training on Tuesday.
"I think the first thing we have to do is really sit down and assess what we have in front of us," said Womack, who turns 34 in late June. "I had a great opportunity to meet some of the seniors on this team and I can definitely say if those kids represent the team, I don't think we're going to have a whole lot of problems because those kids were great kids and had the right frame of mind as far as work ethic."
"I'm not so worried about X's and O's right away," he added. "We've all got to make sure we're mentally right and ready to turn this around."
The Eagles finished fifth in the Midwestern League with a 3-4 league mark and were 5-5 overall in 2012. Womack replaces Jacob Schauffler, who in five seasons posted a 21-28 overall record and 10-13 ledger in conference play. Eagle Point hasn't advanced to the state playoffs since 1997 despite coming close in each of the past four seasons.
Most recently, Womack had served as assistant coach and recruiter at his alma mater Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., where he graduated in 2005. During his playing days he was a three-time all-conference performer and went on to play professionally in the National Indoor Football League as well as in Austria. His coaching career includes work as an assistant at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, Rockbridge High in Columbia, Mo., and Oklahoma Panhandle State University. He served as head coach of the Braunschweig Lions for one season in Germany in 2011 before joining the Westminster staff.
"We're just really excited," Wood said of bringing in Womack. "He comes with a lot of coaching experience as well as playing experience at the college level. We feel he'll bring a lot of knowledge to our program and a lot of connections to the next level for kids who want to go ahead and play after high school, whatever level that might be."
Womack said leaving family and friends in Missouri was difficult, but the whole process almost seemed like it was meant to be. Their house sold after being on the market for only seven hours, and the house they found in Eagle Point would be available to move into on Saturday.
"Things just kinda really fell into place perfectly for us when we came back from the interview and made our minds up to make the move," said Womack, whose wife is due to deliver their first child (a boy) in July. "It was definitely hard to leave everything behind but we really felt this was a great opportunity for us and, again, we're just super excited about joining the Eagle Point team."
Womack said the talent on hand will likely dictate a lot of the coaching schemes and philosophies he plans to put in place at Eagle Point, but a focus on the running game on both sides of the ball is a must.
"We're going to make teams stop our run and on the defensive side of the ball we're going to make them beat us with the pass," he said. "I don't care what team you're at, whether it's the University of Oregon or University of Texas, if you can run the ball successfully and stop the opponent's running game, that's a great recipe for success."
Womack said he's already in the early stages of filling out his coaching staff and has received positive feedback from coaches throughout the state, as well as those he has ties with during his playing and coaching days.
"I really feel like it's going to be a good match," said Wood. "He has a great concern for the kids and in wanting to make sure they're taken care of before anything football-related, including getting a solid education and making sure they're getting help and assistance during their high school years."