Dave Taynor gained familiarity with Sidney while working as head coach at Urbana University.
After making the transition to coaching high school teams, Taynor jumped at the chance to take over the Yellow Jackets’ program when Sidney athletic director Mitch Hoying offered him the job earlier this week.
Taynor, who has coached at St. Paris Graham the last three years, will take over as the program’s coach pending approval by Sidney’s school board. The board is expected to approve the hire during its Dec. 19 meeting.
Taynor coached collegiately at Urbana University between 2008 and 2014 and then at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania from 2015 to 2019. He was an assistant at Graham in 2020, then took over as head coach in 2021.
“The football part of things, there’s not a huge difference,” Taynor said. “… When I initially took the job at Graham, I had a lot of people tell me, ‘I don’t think you can do what you did when you were in college.’ What I found out is, you set a level of expectation, guys will rise to that level.”
Taynor tried to recruit heavily throughout southwest Ohio while at Urbana and became familiar with the area while leading the program.
“Jeff Smith, who’s coaching at Wayne right now, handled (our recruiting) from everything from Sidney down to around Cincinnati while I was at Urbana, so I had a little conversation with him,” Taynor said. “So I’m familiar with (Sidney) and have some guys I went to college with who teach at the district.”
One of those guys is GC Kimmel, who has been a longtime middle school teacher in Sidney.
“GC played with (Taynor) at Urbana, and as soon as GC knew that we were going to be in the market for a head coach, he immediately direct messaged Dave and kind of got the ball rolling on communication between us,” Hoying said. “A big thank you to GC, because he got the ball rolling in the right direction.”
Hoying said Taynor was impressive throughout the hiring process, and he’s excited to have him leading the program.
“Dave’s made the stops in his career, knows how to build a successful coaching staff and knows how to have interactions with all sorts of kids from different backgrounds,” Hoying said. “I just don’t see a situation that can come up on a football field, in the classroom, on a bus or in a weight room that Dave isn’t going to be able to handle and handle successfully the first time.”
Taynor attended Urbana and started his coaching career there before moving to Louisville as a graduate assistant. He was an assistant coach at three universities before being named Urbana’s head coach prior to the 2008 season.
Taynor oversaw the program’s transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II as coach and amassed a 38-39 overall record in seven seasons, including 8-3 finishes in 2011 and 2012.
Taynor left after the 2014 season to become Lock Haven’s coach and posted a 12-43 record between 2015 and 2019. The university dismissed Taynor following the 2019 season.
Taynor didn’t have plans on becoming a high school coach after leaving Lock Haven, but things aligned in 2020.
“We had moved back to Ohio, and I was actually on the path to starting my own company as a leadership trainer consultant,” Taynor said. “I was doing some of that with Germain Toyota in the Columbus area, and I was going to coach part time at Urbana University, then obviously, the university closed.
“I (lived) close to Otterbein University at that point in time and was going to volunteer there, but then they moved their season to the spring (in response to the COVID-19 pandemic).
“My nephew, Zack Vanscoy, played here at Graham. …He was going into his junior year, and a couple of the guys on staff were guys I coached in college. …I said I’d come out and help, and I didn’t know that it was going to go the route of me ending up as the head coach shortly after that.”
A large reason why Taynor has decided to make a career of coaching in high school is to be able to spend more time with his wife Heather and daughter Chloe. He has spent time coaching his daughter’s travel softball team; she currently plays on a 10U team made of players from several states.
“It’s nice to have a little bit of time to be able to spend as a dad,” Taynor said. “I spent the better part of every offseason for the first seven years of my daughter’s life running in recruiting and running in fundraising, staying in hotels. You spend more dinners with perspective recruits than you do your own family for a long period of time during recruiting.
“Having the ability to still lead young men and be impactful as a football coach and do the things that I love while still being able to be a dad and enjoy being a softball coach with her is awesome.”
Taynor succeeded Shane Cahill (who he coached in college) as Graham’s head coach prior to the 2021 season.
Graham had 10 consecutive losing seasons before the 2020 season. The Falcons finished 7-1 that year and followed with a 7-4 campaign in Taynor’s first year as head coach, in which they won a playoff game for the first time in at least 20 years.
“We focused on doing little things and building the culture,” Taynor said. “Leaders create culture, your culture drives your behaviors and your actions, and your behaviors and your actions either fortify or destroy your culture.
“If you focus on developing leadership, you’ll build a culture. It was a matter of getting the guys (at Graham) to understand that good and bad things happen in a game. …It’s a matter of managing your emotions so you keep yourself on a level where you’re consistent with the culture.
“… We had to change the culture and get them to understand that when bad things happen, you respond. That’s what championship teams do, they respond. They respond to adversity.”
Graham set many offensive records in Taynor’s two years as head coach, including most total offensive yards in a season, most passing yards and most passing touchdowns. Graham quarterback Eli Hollingsworth threw for 4,205 yards and 52 touchdowns with and 18 interceptions the last two years.
“You want to look at what your best personnel does best and give them the opportunity to do that on gameday,” Taynor said. “… We’re a multi-tempo, no huddle in, modified huddles, we’re multiple formations. We’re going to create matchups whenever we can, play the numbers that are on the field, get the ball where the places where the numbers are to our advantage.
“We’re going to feed the studs. Figure out what those best players do, and we’ll use the schemes that match the personnel. And we’re going to coach the heck out of the offensive line and the quarterback position.”
The Falcons finished 5-6 this past season. They lost to archrival Urbana 42-35 in a playoff game to finish the year after having lost 42-7 in a Central Buckeye Conference matchup against the Hillclimbers earlier in the season.
Taynor said it was a hard decision to leave Graham.
“It’s always difficult to leave somewhere because you build really good relationships,” Taynor said. “I’ve got a rock that’s on my desk that says, ‘husband, father, mentor.’ Those are the three things that are most important to me.
“The mentor part makes it difficult for me to leave anywhere that you’ve been. But you also look at what will be the best opportunities for your family and what our future is, and then on top of that, I’m going to get the opportunity to mentor some great young men and coaches within the staff. So I’m excited about that opportunity.”
Taynor succeeds Adam Doenges, who announced his resignation in November after 12 years at the helm of the program. He massed a career record of 53-71.
The Yellow Jackets, which finished 4-7 this year, have won five games five times in the last eight seasons.
“One thing I learned through all our interviews was the support the Sidney community shows football is highly known and attractive to every single person we talked to,” Hoying said. “Adam and the existing coaching staff have done a tremendous job of laying a strong foundation.
“Our booster groups, we have money to spend and are willing to invest in our kids. We have a self-sustained network to finance continued improvement and growth. We have all the people who have ever contributed to facility upgrades projects. All of those things together allowed us to be in position where a coach of the caliber of Dave Taynor entertains the idea of working at Sidney. Without it, we don’t end up hiring somebody as qualified and with a track record as extensive as Dave’s.”
Taynor will be introduced to players and parents at a meeting at Sidney High School’s cafeteria on Thursday evening.
“I’m going to send a message as to what our cultural model is,” Taynor said. “We have a cultural playbook. It’s a simple mantra: ‘Want to, tempo, and us.’”