When Charlo High School football coach Reese Cox began as a Vikings’ assistant coach under longstanding Vikings coaches Mike Krahn and Jim Petersen, he never envisioned being at the helm nearly two years later.
“If you would have asked me two years ago when I first signed at Charlo, and you would have told me that I would be coaching the team in two years, I would have told you ‘no, we have some great coaches,’’ Cox said. “That is why I would take over as time went on I suppose. I got to the point of taking a break, and it just worked out that I am the next man up.’”
Taking over for both Petersen and Krahn is something Cox admitted wasn’t part of the plan when he became the Vikings’ assistant coach in 2017.
“(Krahn and Petersen) kind of a have a beautiful mind on both respective sides of the ball,” Cox said. “It was kind of good to come into that program. They have a lot of knowledge and wisdom. The two coaches structured a system, and it’s been kind of a blessing to learn underneath both of them, and get an understanding as to what we do as football players.”
Cox, who is also the boys’ basketball coach, said he felt he is ready to attempt to fill the shoes of the longstanding coaches, who have had their team in playoff contention two of the last three football seasons.
Cox, who has been a Vikings’ boys basketball coach since the 2017-2018 season, has developed a reputation in Class C as one of the top strategists and basketball mind in the game.
“I have the same strategic approach to football as I do basketball, and I strategize based on what they bring,” Cox said. “I’ve already gotten kind of what they do a little bit. I am preparing for week one against Plains by watching film, and seeing where we can find it.”
In Cox’s first year at the helm, he won’t have the luxury of having what many coaches throughout football in Montana reference as one of the most explosive players on the field.
Cox isn’t worried as he expressed confidence in the personnel he inherited.
“It will be a big void without Landers Smith,” Cox said. “However, I am putting a lot of trust in our next quarterback. He is the smartest kid on the field for both teams no matter what. He is an unbelievably brilliant kid who understands the game, and works inside the classroom. He has a high IQ and intelligence and he understands the game, and even though he lacks size, he understands pre-snap progression before the ball gets snapped.”
Cox is currently looking at a roster that will boast of 20 participants, which is considered a high level of participation for a Charlo football team that looks to return to the postseason. In 2016, and 2017, the Vikings finished second in the Montana High School Class C, 8-man football playoffs, and qualified for the second of the MHSA Class C playoffs in 2018.
“I gave a count this morning, and I think I am going to have a trustworthy twenty players with the non-verbals giving me 24, and we will see how long they last,” Cox said. “Football is a game of attrition, and this is the most depth that we’ve had. There is a lot of cycling, and package schemes with some of the boys. There is a lot of depth at that number. We have a good solid amount of players as linemen, skill-positions players and running backs.”
Similar to how he approaches basketball, Cox said he wants to dictate the tempo on the football field.
“Being an assistant with Mike and Jim, I have gained some good friendships with other coaches in the District, and even in the state,” Cox said. “When Mike and Jim resigned, there were lots of coaches encouraging me at the 8-man clinic. All of the coaches showed their support for me getting the job. That is what is great about the coaching ranks in Montana is all of the friendships you develop with your opponent.”
Cox has stated that he felt his team will be extremely competitive as they prepare to enter the 2019-2020 school season, without Landers Smith, a player, who many considered one of the most accomplished players in the last three years at the MHSA Class C, 8-man football ranks.
Despite losing Smith, who is now playing for Montana Tech, Cox is excited about the returning players he has returning this season as they prepare for their season-opening game against Plains High School.