With their recent five-year stretch of deep playoff runs, the Guyer football program has become known for its weight-room regiment, work ethic and overall strength throughout the roster.
So much so that head coach John Walsh can be constantly found on the clinic circuit talking about that very subject and using his quarterbacks as an example.
Dating back to his son, J.W. Walsh, who is now at Oklahoma State, and including current star quarterback and Texas pledge Jerrod Heard and even Heard’s backup, David Haynes, the Guyer signal-callers have demonstrated unprecedented strength at the position.
Without question, that has a lot to do with those players and their work ethics, but behind the scenes has been the constant training and teaching from Guyer’s head strength and conditioning coach Bryan Kegans, who joined the Wildcats program in 2007. Kegans has overseen the strength and conditioning for all of Guyer’s athletic programs the last two years after relinquishing his offensive line duties.
Now, the Wildcats will have to stay strong without Kegans, who took a job as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for football at the University of Texas. He will be replaced at Guyer by his former assistant, Guyer linebackers coach Kyle Keese.
“I speak at a lot of places, and I tell them our last two quarterbacks were 300-pound power-cleaners and our backup now is, too, and that’s just unheard of [at the high-school level]. These are 180- and 190-pound guys, and there’s not many of those. You can go around the state and you’re not going to find many, or any at all, 300-pound power-cleaners, and it’s almost a requirement at Guyer.
“I tell people that and they don’t believe me. We have video though; it’s part of our presentation on how we train the quarterback, and we show them, and a lot of that is thanks to Bryan.”
Kegans, who played on the offensive line at Texas Tech in the early 2000s, worked there under Bennie Wylie, who left the same post at Tech to take over as head strength and conditioning coach for football at Texas in 2011.
Kegans said he’s excited to once again work with Wylie, this time not as a player but as a co-worker.
“There are so many coaches that want to have jobs like these and there’s so many guys that are just as qualified that it takes the trust of knowing someone and working with someone and that person knowing who you are,” the 30-year-old Kegans said. “It definitely helped that I had a relationship with him [Wylie].”
He will also get the opportunity to once again work with Heard, who will be a college freshman in 2014 and committed to Texas last summer.
“I’m pretty excited about that,” Kegans said of continuing to work with Heard at the collegiate level. “I’ve been with him since he was a freshman at Guyer, and now I get to have him for four or five more years. It’s pretty cool. Over time, I think it’ll be a pretty good friendship especially by the time he’s done at UT.”
Though football has always been Kegans’ first love, he said what really set the wheels in motion for where he is today was when he convinced Walsh to let him quit coaching football after the 2010 season and focus solely on strength and conditioning, primarily in football but also working with the school’s other sports programs. He also worked last season as a strength and conditioning coach with the TWU basketball program.
“It was huge,” Kegans said. “It [strength and conditioning] wasn’t a big deal then. It’s growing in high schools, but to be at a high school with enough coaches and have the trust of a head coach to see the benefit of having a full-time strength and conditioning coach and being able to spare one of his assistants, it’s some uncharted territory we were in. We were in a place that not a lot of people have been when we did that.
“Without his allowing that to happen and giving me his trust to run the offseason and run this program’s workouts and strength and conditioning part of it, I don’t think any of this would have been able to happen.”
The discipline wasn’t always a big deal to Walsh either, who said he has always preached the strong, hard-nosed attitude that Guyer is known for, even back to his days as an assistant coach at Brownwood, but not in the same manner.
“What makes Bryan special is there’s a science to all of this,” Walsh said. “When J.W. was going through it, I wasn’t quite sure we were doing right because we used to try to work them as hard as we could in Brownwood until they were tired and thought that was strength and conditioning. Coach Kegans said, ‘That’s just getting good at getting tired. We’re going to get good at playing football.’”
That definitely happened.
The first year Kegans was at Guyer in a position coach and strength and conditioning role, the Wildcats went 1-9. They made the playoffs every year after that and went to at least the state semifinals four times with two trips to the state championship game and one victory — last December when Guyer defeated Georgetown to claim the Class 4A Division I crown.
Kegans won two state championships as a player in the late 1990s at Stephenville under current Baylor head coach Art Briles but said winning one as a coach with Guyer was more special, even if he wouldn’t have believed it as an 18-year-old.
“Winning as a player was a lot of fun, and after we won I would’ve said it was better than being a coach. But after reflecting on just how far we’ve come since 2007 to finally finish it and win was a little overwhelming to think about,” Kegans said. “It was definitely better as a coach.”
Now, he’ll continue his coaching career in the field for which he has a deep passion, but it will just be on a much higher level, and he’s ready for the challenge.
“It doesn’t get any better as far as opportunity goes,” Kegans said. “I know anyone from my profession would kill for a chance to go to a place like UT and be a strength and conditioning coach and realize the implications it can lead to as far as even bigger things down the road. It’s definitely not anything you would turn down.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.