PARKERSBURG – The Parkersburg High School football program has a new head coach.
On Tuesday evening the Wood County Board of Education approved former Big Red Matt Kimes to replace Mike Byus, who guided the red and white since 2017.
A 1997 PHS graduate, Kimes spent the past three seasons as the head man at Warren High School where he guided the Warriors to a 16-14 record. In his initial season, the Warriors went 6-4 in 2019 and had a winning record for the first time in a decade. In 2020, the Warriors finished 7-2 and also won a pair of playoff games, something the program hadn’t done before. Last year, despite a 3-7 regular season, the Warriors advanced to the postseason in Ohio after the Buckeye State extended the playoffs to 16 teams.
“It was an emotional talk when I spoke to the team. There were some kids crying and I was crying, “ said Kimes, who was a three-sport standout in football, baseball and basketball that included him being named to the Class AAA all-state first team as a running back during his senior campaign. “It made me feel like we did make that connection. I cared about them and they cared about me, but it made me know I’m doing things right and building relationships in a positive way and they were sad to see me leave.
“The administration was super supportive and understanding. They’ve been nothing but supportive. I wrote a big message on Facebook. It (leaving for PHS) wasn’t because I wasn’t happy at Warren. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I’m thankful for those years at Warren. I’m blessed. I think it’s prepared me for this new job and I think I left it better than I found it. I love those kids out there. They are great kids. “
Prior to arriving at Warren, Kimes spent six years (2013-2018) at Parkersburg South as an assistant coach. Before that, he was an assistant at PHS for eight seasons and was part of the back-to-back state champions in 2006-07.
“We’re really excited to bring coach Kimes back to Parkersburg High School,” noted Chris Way, the athletic director at PHS.
“I think it’s a little extra special any time you have the opportunity to hire an alumnus of the program and one that excelled in the program like he did.
“Coach Kimes has proven that he can build positive relationships with his players and create a culture where the players will play with enthusiasm and a fight to the end attitude to get the job done.”
As difficult as it was for Kimes to move on, he knew once Byus departed he had to throw his hat into the ring.
“You really never know,” Kimes said of the interview process. “I felt like I had a great game plan going in. Starting with making the past connect with the present, creating that Big Red tradition and making sure the kids understand who played before them. I think that was kind of my spill.
“I think we need someone that’s been there and done it as a player and a coach and bring the community support back to where it should be. Having one of your own there that lived it adds to that impact. They can really feel a Big Red coaching the Big Red team is what should be happening. “
When it comes to competing in the Mountain State Athletic Conference, the new Big Red boss said they’ve just got to build and get better daily.
“It is what it is. We got to be the best program we can be, “ continued Kimes. “I’m not coming in here saying we’re going to be the next Martinsburg or Spring Valley, but what we need to be is where we are a top eight consistent program in the state and host playoff games every year. That’s our goal, to get to the top. It’s not going to be an overnight thing. It’s going to be a process. “
Kimes said the coaching staff is coming along and that he hopes to have everyone in place by the end of the month.
“We’re close,” he added. “I’m going to bring three or four guys with me from Warren. Obviously, the Parkersburg guys on staff are going to come with me. I’ll start the interview process this week and next week to see if they fit with what I’m going to do.
“Some guys who have played there or coached before have shown interest. I’m confident I’ll put together a really solid staff. The networking I’ve been able to build in over 20 years of coaching, I think I’ll be able to put together as good a staff as there is in the state. “
PHS will open the campaign with a pair of home games at Stadium Field versus MSAC foes St. Albans (Aug. 26) and Riverside (Sept. 2) before having a bye week and then going across the Little Kanawha River and taking on rival Parkersburg South at the Erickson All-Sports Facility.
Contact Jay Bennett at email@example.com