The Festus Tigers were an impressive bunch in 2020. First year Head Coach AJ Ofodile led them to a District Title, a Conference Championship and a 10-2 overall record. Building off of prior success despite roster turnover is a tricky dance move for a Head Coach, but if anyone is up to the challenge it’s Coach Ofodile. The Tigers should be a formidable foe once again in 2021, thanks to a group of talented young men and the tutelage of a seasoned football lifer. Ameritime Sports caught up with Coach Ofodile and asked him five burning questions about his experience, his Tigers and his expectations.
1. The Tigers had an impressive first season under your command. Is there anything that stood out for you on a personal level in your first year as a Head Coach?
“Last year was obviously a unique experience for everyone. On a personal note it was a reminder that most of the things we worry about in our daily lives are not as important as we think and also a reminder to appreciate the things that we sometimes take for granted in our daily lives.”
2. It’s not easy to improve on the amount of success you generated last season, but what are your expectations for 2021, and could there potentially be some hardware in the Tigers’ future?
“I’ve been around way too long to measure success based on points on the scoreboard. Having a program that helps people grow personally and athletically is much more important to me. Winning is great because it makes the important messages easier to convey but I’ll be satisfied with everyone giving their best effort and let the chips fall where they may.”
3. Having played football at the highest level in your professional career, came back to coach high school football, then coaching at Mizzou, you’ve mentioned that you felt that coaching high school is where you’d like to be. When you look back at everything you’ve accomplished, what are some of the key things you feel you can pass down to these young Tigers?
“The most important thing that I want everyone to understand is that you don’t choose your circumstances but you have complete control over your attitude about your circumstances. Being committed to working towards goals in partnerships with others is a framework that athletics provides for people, so let’s take advantage of mastering those skills.”
4. Each season every schedule is difficult in its own way (even though you have an idea of who you’re playing because of the 3-year schedule rotation) and every team can still be threat, but are there any standout games in 2021 that will pose a significant challenge?
“The biggest thing that stands out about our schedule is how young everyone was on our schedule last year. We were a senior heavy team and lost several very key contributors and most of the teams we play are returning just about all of their top guys so we know that we have to improve a lot to catch back up to these teams who are now more experienced than we are.”
5. Being a second-year coach at Festus and working to build a formidable program, what are some of the keys that need to happen to do that?
“Success in football isn’t a mystery and it’s not unique to any particular school or region. There has to be a strong commitment to offseason player development in order to be a competitive team at the top level of our state. We have grown in that area but there still is a lot of growth needed to reach our potential individually and as a program.”
It sounds like attitude, hard work and the right mentality are the driving factors behind Coach Ofodile’s system. The Tigers have a tough schedule, and may have to overcome hardships and adversity with a younger group of players, but they have solid leadership in place, and the coaching philosophy is a proven and successful one. All signs point to the 2021 season being another prosperous one under the current regime.
Good luck, Coach. And good luck to your Tigers.