LIBERTY TWP. — Rick Haynes named off the list of inspirational coaches he’s played for and had the privilege to work with.
It was many.
And they all had their own unique, positive impact on him.
“Most guys who are football coaches, they have great experiences playing high school football and thought the world of their coaches who coached them,” Haynes said. “The same experiences go for those you coach with.
“I was one of those guys who enjoyed those experiences.”
Haynes, 61, shared those experiences — and his knowledge — as the head football at Lakota East for the last 13 years. He announced that he was stepping down from the position earlier this week.
Haynes said he also plans to step down as dean of students at the school on June 30.
Haynes, who coached at the prep and college levels for 40 years, became East’s football coach at the end of 2009. He went 70-65 during his tenure there and led the Thunderhawks to their first playoff berth in 2012 — with a total of 5 postseason visits.
Lakota East was 48-48 in the Greater Miami Conference with Haynes at the helm.
Haynes became only the second leader of East football following long-time Lakota/Lakota East veteran and Hall of Fame coach Greg Bailie.
“Coach Haynes has been an incredible coach, leader and role model for our East student-athletes over the past 13 years,” said Jill Meiring, Lakota East’s athletic director. “His passion for football and ability to teach the game he loves to our players was instrumental to the success our teams had on and off the field.
“Personally, he’s been a great friend, mentor, and colleague to me as well and will be missed,” Meiring added.
Haynes was an assistant coach at Colerain for 27 seasons from 1991 to 2006 and part of the Cardinals’ 2004 state championship team. He was an assistant coach at Thomas More from 2007 to 2009.
Haynes coached at Loveland from 1990 to 1999, Centerville (1986-89), Springfield North (1984-85) and the University of Dayton in 1983.
“I sincerely hope that all involved look at the difference Rick Haynes has made in the Lakota East football program,” said former Lakota East athletic director Richard Bryant, who is now at Loveland. “Rick completely changed the trajectory and expectation, as evidenced by league rankings and playoff victories.
“He is an incredible football mind,” Bryant added. “He captained the East program through some very successful seasons and also led them through some very difficult times. Rick loves each and every player like they are his own.”
‘My best friend’
Haynes was sitting with Kerry Coombs during a wedding they attended in the late 1980s.
Haynes was an assistant coach at Centerville at the time, while Coombs was coaching at Lakota when it was just Lakota.
“We were best friends, and we made this bet — sitting right there at the wedding,” Haynes said. “Whoever had a head coaching job first, the other guy would come and work for him.”
Haynes said the combo wouldn’t be a bad one.
He had an offensive mindset at Centerville, and Coombs coached on the defensive side of the ball at Lakota.
“We both applied for the job at Loveland when there was an opening,” Haynes said.
It was Coombs who ended up getting it.
So, Haynes fulfilled his end of the deal.
“I left Centerville and went down to become his offensive coordinator,” he said.
The two found their way to Colerain, where Haynes assisted Coombs and helped power the Cardinals to that 2004 state championship.
Haynes was known for operating the triple option at Lakota East.
His opponents knew it. His players knew it. The Thunderhawk faithful in the stands knew it.
But that wasn’t where Haynes captivated the style of offense.
“I learned it in high school,” said Haynes, who played at Turpin. “I was a triple option quarterback. … Then when I went to help coach at Centerville, they had just adopted the split-back offense. They later switched to the triple.”
Kirk Herbstreit was the quarterback for the Elks.
“He was a great option QB, and he ran the offense really well,” Haynes said. “That’s when I learned and became more and more passionate about running triple option football.”
Watching and being a fan of academy football just amplified his trust in the system.
“We went out to Air Force, Army and Navy — we watched their spring practices,” Haynes said. “The triple option told us that we could have an offense where you could hold on to the ball and limit the number of times your defense is going to be on the field.”
It was the same concept — and belief — that Haynes and Coombs had when they went to Loveland.
“It turned out very good,” Haynes said. “We wanted to do those same things when we got to Colerain. We just kept the same philosophy.”
Haynes remembered a specific time when they ran the same play nine times in a row against LaSalle.
“Except, a couple plays went to the left and a couple plays went to the right,” Haynes chuckled.
“To be honest, I never got bored with running the triple option. I never thought it was boring. Maybe some of the parents in the stands thought it was. But I never once thought it was boring at all.”
Haynes credited most of his passion for coaching football to his former mentors and the coaches he assisted.
Longtime Centerville coach Bob Gregg and his former coach at Turpin, Bob Berta, sit at the top of the list. Haynes played for Mike Kelly, former University of Dayton football coach.
“They were all inspirations,” Haynes said. “They were all great individuals andmotivators. They were great to learn from.”
But the best part of his coaching career was family related, Haynes said.
“I think I was very fortunate to coach with my son, Jared, for five years. I don’t know how many dads get to do something they love with their sons. That would be the pinnacle. … I know we won a state championship, but being able to coach with my son is the pinnacle of my coaching career.”
Haynes said there is “gas left in the tank,” so he wouldn’t be surprised if he’d be on the gridiron assisting in some fashion.
“I hope to still coach,” Haynes said. “I still love coaching the offensive line. Hopefully somebody out there would hire me. I don’t know, but it would be up to them. I hope there’s a spot somewhere for me.”
He’s got the resume to back it.