A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

First-year head coach Mike Woolf begins preseason practice with Campbell County football team

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Mike Woolf conducted his first preseason practice as a head football coach on Tuesday morning at Campbell County High School. It was a light workout with players wearing helmets and no pads, but the new coach set the tone for his team.

“The first thing I said to them this morning is our season depends on us being focused right now and how hard we work,” Woolf said. “If we expect to go out and win on Friday nights, it’s not going to be handed to us. We have to work hard every day and focus on getting better because on Friday nights you better be prepared.”

Campbell County’s first-year head coach Mike Woolf was an assistant for the last 23 seasons.

High school head football coaches all around the state gave similar speeches to their teams on Tuesday. But it was the first time Woolf got to deliver one after spending 23 years as an assistant coach.

“I’m excited to take on this new role,” he said. “You always have pressure as a football coach, but as a head coach what it all gets down to is the wins and losses are going to have my name on it.”

Woolf, 48, was named head coach of the Camels in February. He replaced Steve Lickert, who resigned to take charge of the Newport Central Catholic football program.

Woolf was defensive coordinator at Campbell County from 1997 to 2003. For the last 15 years, he was assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Ryle. He was named Assistant Coach of the Year by the Northern Kentucky Football Coaches Association in 2014.

“I had not put my name out there for many head coaching jobs, but this just seemed like the right time and right place for myself and my family,” he said of taking the Campbell County job.

“I was comfortable coaching (Class) 6A football (at Ryle) and I was waiting for the right opportunity,” he added. “I thought Campbell County was it, being a 6A program with the facilities that are here and the great kids and the community.”

The Camels have 19 seniors on the current roster. Woolf is counting on their leadership to help make his first season as head coach a successful one.

“We want to win right away because of this senior group and the talent that’s here,” he said. “The program, if you’re doing things right, will build and grow as you go along. But my goal is to come in and win as many games as possible (this season).”

One of Campbell County’s top returning senior starters is Tanner Lawrence, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound defensive end and tight end.

“It was a big change, but I think most of us like it,” Lawrence said of adjusting to the new head coach. “It’s coming together and it feels good. Everybody is extremely excited about this upcoming year.”

Last season, Campbell County lost in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs and finished with a 7-5 record.

The Camels have eight returning starters on defense, but only three on offense. Two of the seniors who graduated were quarterback Austin Hoeh and running back Alex Dowds. Together, they accounted for 4,241 of the team’s 4,657 total rushing and passing yards last season.

Rebuilding the offense will be a major challenge for Woolf and his assistant coaches during the six weeks of pre-season practice. They’re also making some adjustments to the defensive unit that allowed 313 yards per game last season.

“I think the kids are excited about the changes,” Woolf said. “We’re going to be more of an attacking defense with multiple fronts and stunting. Offensively, since we lost so many (starters), it’s not like it’s something totally different. It’s a clean page with most of them.”

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