Southside Christian coach Jason Kaiser
THE PREVIOUS HEAD COACH AND ATHLETIC director, Steve Lockwood, left suddenly to teach and coach at Whitmire School (S.C.), and Kaiser earned the unexpected promotion from offensive coordinator to interim coach.
“I had done some work to put the offensive scheme in place, but we had to do some major revamping of the philosophy and thought process from beginning to end,” Kaiser said. “We had to change the expectations of the kids and make a lot of changes. To overhaul a staff in the summer would have been a bad decision.”
Kaiser revamped the program faster than anyone could have expected, leading Southside Christian to its first Class A Division I state championship in program history during his first season as full-time head coach in 2015.
Kaiser came to Southside Christian in 2011 with some previous head coaching experience in South Florida. In his first season as interim coach, he led the team to a 6-5 record – one win shy of the program record for single-season wins.
Last spring, he decided to add to his staff with coaches he trusted from his experience in South Florida – offensive line coach Allan Lowy and offensive coordinator Mike Sonneborn.
“After coming to the realization of how much we needed as a team, I realized how important it would be to overhaul the staff,” Kaiser said.
Southside Christian opened the season with a 20-14 loss to Travelers Rest, before running off 13 straight victories on its way to a state title.
THE FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT
LAST FALL PROVIDED A season of firsts for Southside Christian. The football team hosted its first playoff game, won its first playoff game and, of course, captured its first state title. It marked the first-ever state championship for a boys team at Southside Christian.
Those feats could be repeated in the near future. The middle school football team went undefeated and outscored its opponents 198-0.
“We’ve got the best middle school teams we’ve ever had,” Kaiser said. “We’ve got 55 kids on that team. When that group moves to ninth grade, it’ll be the best JV team we’ve ever had.”
Southside Christian’s season got off to a rocky start due to the opening-week loss to Travelers Rest. Southside was flagged for 16 penalties for 150 yards.
“It was a very poor start to the regular season, but that woke us up,” Kaiser said. “The coaches and players realized we might have been good in scrimmages, but we hadn’t done anything yet. Every week we got better.”
Southside Christian had never won a playoff game in its previous nine varsity seasons, but the Sabres averaged 54 points in four playoff victories.
Kaiser said the process of implementing his coaching philosophy had its uncomfortable moments over the last two years. In order to build a staff of assistant coaches he trusted, he had to say goodbye to some assistants from the previous regime.
“Because of the realization of how much we needed as a team, I realized it was very important to overhaul the staff,” Kaiser said. “Some we wanted to keep, and they didn’t want to stay around because they didn’t agree with who I was bringing in.”