LexCath assistant Engler named new football coach at Ryle

mfields@herald-leader.comFebruary 4, 2014 

Mike Engler is the new head football coach at Ryle High School.

Mike Engler, who's been an assistant football coach at Lexington Catholic since the program's inception in 1991, is leaving the Knights to become head coach at Ryle.

"It's the perfect situation, one I couldn't pass up," said Engler, who served as offensive coordinator at Lexington Catholic.

He replaces Bryson Warner, who coached Ryle for 11 years before resigning after last season.

Engler said his departure from Lexington Catholic had nothing to do with the Knights' change in head coaches. Bill Letton resigned in early December, and Mark Perry, who had been at Central Hardin, was hired to replace him a few weeks ago.

Engler applied for the Ryle job before Letton stepped down, and he did not apply to succeed Letton at Lexington Catholic.

"I felt like they needed to bring in somebody new to energize the program, and I think Mark Perry will do that," Engler said. "I would've loved working with him because I think he'll do a great, great job at Lexington Catholic."

Engler said he has been looking to get into a public-school position for better pay and benefits for several years, and declined a few offers.

But he couldn't turn down Ryle.

"Everybody I talked to told me how good a school it is," he said. "The football facilities are really nice, and I've been so impressed by everybody I've met there.

"It's got the makings of a championship program."

Engler, 43, was at Ryle on Tuesday for a news conference to announce his hiring, but school was dismissed early because of a forecast for bad weather. So instead of meeting with the football players as a group, he stood in the hallway and met as many as he could as they left school.

"I had a nice speech all planned out and I didn't even get to use it," Engler said with a laugh.

Bob Sphire, who started Lexington Catholic football and was its head coach for 15 years before leaving for a job at North Gwinnett, Ga., said Engler "always had the program at heart and would do anything, take on any responsibility, to help."

Sphire was also impressed by Engler's skills as an offensive coordinator.

"I was amazed by how creative he was," Sphire said. "Even when he was short-handed on players, he had a knack for shuffling the deck and giving kids a chance to be successful."

Ryle is a Class 6A school in the same district with Boone County, Campbell County, Dixie Heights and Simon Kenton. The Raiders lost to Trinity in the 2006 state finals, and to the Shamrocks in the 2010 semifinals. They have struggled recently, going 3-8 in 2012 and 2-9 last season.

Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com.

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