2013-12-12 / Sports

Putnam hired at Kearsley

BY LISA PAINE
810-452-2626 • lpaine@mihomepaper.com


Jeff Putnam brings 26 years of coaching experience to the Kearsley football program. Jeff Putnam brings 26 years of coaching experience to the Kearsley football program. LAPEER — Arguably one of the best football coaches in the area is returning closer to home — at least as far as his coaching role.

Jeff Putnam, who still lives in the same house in Lapeer he grew up in, has a 171-92 career mark in 26 seasons at the helm of high school football programs. He was hired Monday by Kearsley Community Schools to run its varsity football program starting with the fall of 2014.

Putnam, who had a 17-year stint at Lapeer West from 1985-1997, ended his tenure at West with an 83-43 mark and the 1995 Class A State title. After leaving West, Putnam took over the Davison program and took the school from a four-season 4-5 mark to seven straight Big Nine titles and three state semifinals appearances. Putnam left Davison in 2009 to lead the University of Detroit- Jesuit program for three seasons (2009- 2011), ending with a 12-15 record.

Putnam and his teams have qualified for the MHSAA state playoffs on eight separate occasions. A four-time Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) Regional Coach of the Year, Putnam was inducted into the MHSFCA in 2007.

“We are extremely excited to welcome Coach Putnam as our new varsity head football coach,” said Kearsley Athletic Director Paul Gaudard. “His track record of success speaks for itself. We are thrilled about the future of Kearsley football under his leadership.”

Putnam is equally excited after a short break from coaching.

“I never left the area, but the last two seasons I focused on my business, a small trucking company, and didn’t coach,” Putnam said. “I knew that if the opportunity came up I would return to coaching. And, the opportunity came up.”

To be back among the Flint Metro League schools as a coach is not lost on Putnam.

“I’ve always enjoyed, number one, that the area coverage is really good with the newspapers and television. And, from a coaching standpoint and the community excitement that (football) creates,” Putnam said. “When I coached in Detroit, is was so far away and it was just harder. Now, it’s just coming home to the local people and that great community spirit.”

Several changes will have taken place since Putnam was last involved in the Flint Metro League, most notably that his Kearsley team will no longer be squaring off with Lapeer when the schools combine next fall. Lapeer will compete in the Saginaw Valley League, but former Big Nine rival and current SVL member Flushing, enters the Metro League starting with the fall 2014 season.

“With Lapeer leaving, and I think they make a good decision to combine the high schools, and Flushing coming in, that will be different,” Putnam noted.

His biggest concern, however, is returning Kearsley football to its glory days.

“When I think of Kearsley, I think back to the teams we played at West when Jack Pratt was coaching and they had tremendously tough programs. Wen we played them in 1995 they gave us a tough battle. I think the community really wants a good, tough football program and I really want to restore that because it was there at one time.

“I haven’t seen many of the local games obviously being in Detroit, but top to bottom, Kearsley administration wants a top program and everyone’s on the same page. They are excited and I’m excited. The process will begin and the ties I have, Scott Lynch, an East grad will be part of my coaching staff and Tim Phipps, who graduated Kearsley, coached and taught in Lapeer, he’ll be part of the staff as well. All of this is new, just happening yesterday, so we still have a lot of things to address.”

Gaudard invites all Kearsley football players, parents and community members to attend a “Meet the Coach” welcoming event on Monday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. in the Kearsley High School auditorium.

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