Maryville College’s own Mike Rader had a different kind of debut than most new head coaches. Rader opened up his head coaching career at MC on Sept. 1, against Huntingdon College, the team he had been the wide receiver coach of for the past eight seasons.
This also meant he was going toeto- toe with the man that taught him everything he knew about being top dog on the sidelines: Huntingdon head coach Mike Turk. With so many new things going on for Rader — such as game planning, scheduling camp practices and readying his troops for his hotly anticipated return to Montgomery, Ala. — the fact that he was actually coaching against Huntingdon did not really hit him until the morning of the game.
“I was so wrapped up in all that, that when I finally knew ok it’s time; it finally hit me,” Rader said. Rader was very appreciative of the preparation that Turk had given him during his eight seasons at Huntingdon. Rader felt as though Turk prepared him as much as possible for this moment.
“You will never be fully prepared to be a head coach until you are in this seat, but I really thank [Turk] for allowing me to have my hand in a lot of things at Huntingdon to get me ready for this moment,” Rader said. As game time arrived, the last thing on Rader’s mind was the fact that he was going up against his former team.
The only thing that mattered at that point was keeping the emotions in check and controlling his team; but most important of all, he wanted to win the game. Even though Rader was anxious and his nerves were reeling, he knew he had to stay calm because he now had a whole team looking up to him as a leader.
Although the Scots fell in their opener against Huntingdon, there were many positives coming from the game amidst some miscues. The final score of 49-33 didn’t represent how close the game really was. With only 30 seconds left in the game, the teams were tied at 33. As can only be expected in any season opener, special teams and penalties played a big role in the outcome of the game.
An offensive touchdown, a safety and an onside kick return for a touchdown blew the game open as time dwindled down. Overall, Rader was pleased with the effort his team gave but believes it could have been a different outcome if the team didn’t beat themselves with penalties and other mental errors.
Still, overall, Rader thinks the team is headed in the right direction. After picking up his first win as a head coach in his last game against Sewanee, it will be interesting to see how the Scots continue to progress through the season as conference play begins Sept. 29, against Christopher Newport.