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Singler ready to redouble his efforts

Chosen as new South grid coach

For more than two decades, Bill Singler has roamed the college football world, gathering knowledge and experience.

Now the Medford native says he's finally ready to hang his shingle for a while and build a quality high school program.

And he's returning to familiar territory to do it. Singler was introduced as the new South Medford football coach Tuesday afternoon at Spiegelberg Stadium -- the same field where he starred as a receiver for the Medford Black Tornado in the late 60s and early 70s.

I'm tickled to death to be a Panther, Singler said after the announcement. I'll get used to the blue and white.

Given the state of the program he inherits, black and blue might be the colors he sees early on. The Panthers went a dismal 1-8 in Southern Oregon Conference play and 1-9 overall last season -- leaving Singler with a formidable rebuilding project.

We are going to take our time and do it the right way, he said. We are going to have to reinvent the wheel.

It's going to take some time. My commitment is with South Medford. I'm in it for the long haul.

Settling into a coaching position will be something new for Singler, who's accepted his 11th coaching position in the last 21 years. Last year, he served as the offensive coordinator at Southern Oregon University.

Stops before that included assistant jobs at Long Beach State, Cincinnati, Kansas State, Oregon Institute of Technology, Stanford, Rutgers and Oregon State. He was also the head coach at Pacific University for three years.

But at age 45 and with two young sons -- Mitch is 7 and Jack is 4 -- Singler said it's time to establish some roots. He and his wife, Leah, bought a house in Medford a year ago.

I knew we'd like to settle down and raise our family, and we can't think of a better place to do it, he said. I'm back in old territory. My wife will be able to unpack her boxes for the first time in years.

I've gotten to the point in my life where family is everything.

Singler becomes just the second coach in South Medford history, replacing longtime Panthers coach Larry Walker. Walker retired after last season as the fifth-winningest coach in state history, having amassed a record of 247-69-3 at South Medford and St. Mary's.

There's no way I'll ever be able to reach the number of victories he's accomplished, Singler said, but I'm thrilled to be following him here.

Singler was one of 47 people to apply for the position, eight of whom were granted interviews. Medford School District athletic director Bruce Howell said the interviews were conducted Thursday, Friday and Monday and that the selection committee agreed on Singler on Monday afternoon without further narrowing the field.

It was at the point where I think it was clear to the people in the room that we had the best candidate in front of us, Howell said.

The selection committee included Howell, district Superintendent Steve Wisely, Business Manager Galen Anderson, South Principal Floyd Pawlowski, South Athletic Director Dennis Murphy, and vice principals Jani Hale and Phil Long.

Two applicants originally scheduled for interviews -- Oregon City assistant and former South quarterback Brent Barry and Glencoe assistant John Yeake -- withdrew their names from consideration. Two others -- Barlow assistant John Beck and Pendleton assistant Bo Yates -- were added to the finalists in their place.

The other finalists were SOU defensive coordinator Jeff Weiss, South defensive coordinator Mark Hodges, Crook County coach Jim Hellyer, McNary assistant Ty Gregg and Milwaukie coach Rick Ward.

Singler, who has a master's degree in education from Stanford, will complete his Oregon teaching credential in time to teach physical education at South in the fall.

Making sure Singler was committed to build a program was one of the first steps in the interview process, according to Howell.

He made it quite clear to me that he's a family guy, Howell said. He's at the spot where he's been there, done that and he's ready to apply his wares.

Howell cited Singler's extensive experience -- which included a stint under the legendary Bill Walsh at Stanford -- as one of his biggest strengths along with his ability to connect with the community.

Singler is well aware of Medford's rich high school football legacy, having played on the Black Tornado's 1969 state championship team and on the 1970 squad that lost in the title game. He earned prep All-American and all-state honors in both football and basketball as a junior and senior. He went on to Stanford University, where he was a three-year letterman at wide receiver.

Now he's intent on bringing the winning tradition of his playing days back to Medford.

I feel rejuvenated, he said. High school football, when I was growing up here in Medford, was it. I know that excitement is still out there.

Singler's task is to install that excitement into the junior high schools and into South itself.

You have to be a hands-on coach, he said. Kids in the middle schools need to see who the head football coach is. You need to get out there and mix it up with them.

You have to sell your program. Kids aren't just going to show up on your doorstep these days. What is going to be my main job in the near future is to install and mold a program that kids will want to be a part of.

Former Medford High standout Bill Singler says he'll get used to the blue and white colors of South Medford High. - Photo by Jim Craven