By Kyle Daubs
This felt like an easy move.
When Troy Johnson finally retired as the head coach of the Mattoon High School football team, the administration was going to have to find a new coach for the first time in 13 years. Johnson guided the Green Wave to a 49-71 record, five playoff berths, and an Apollo Conference championship.
Finding a replacement is never easy, but Johnson’s assistants were the first to tell you about what Johnson himself meant to the program, community, and athletes.
That’s why hiring in-house seemed like the natural way to go.
“Jarad will bring a lot of enthusiasm,” said Johnson. “He has been with me since I came to Mattoon. Jarad has experience in every aspect of the game. He is very loyal to the program and the Mattoon community. I believe he will do a great job. He certainly has been patient while waiting to get his chance to lead the Green Wave, football team. I hope he has as many great memories as I do when it is all said and done.”
Kimbro could have quit and let ego get the best of him. When Nat Zunkel retired after one season, Kimbro put his name into the mix to be considered. Instead, the district moved differently and hired Johnson after he had spent a season coaching at Indiana State University, along with a stellar career coaching at Marshall.
“Kimbro has been on board since day one,” said Johnson. “When we talked, he said he didn’t care who got the job as long as it was someone capable of doing it. It’s been a lot of fun with him. I like to throw the ball a lot and get a lot of kids involved. Unfortunately, when it’s an incomplete pass, the clock stops, which I’m sure frustrated him at times. I’m just really fortunate to have had him around for all these years. He has been my right-hand man for 13 years. I couldn’t have asked for a better guy.”
Coaches around the conference echo a similar sentiment. Mahomet-Seymour head coach Jon Adkins, who got to know Kimbro when he was completing his student teaching in the Mattoon School district, believes that this was an easy decision as well.
“Jarad is a great hire,” said Adkins. “The Green Wave are in good hands with coach Kimbro at the helm.”
Taylorville head coach Jeb Odam knows Kimbro fairly well, dating back to their playing days. Kimbro, like Odam, is a former Eastern Illinois University football player.
“Looks like I am going to have to look at more films next year,” said Odam. “I am very excited for Coach Kimbro. He is a former teammate of mine at EIU and am glad to see a fellow alum get a chance at the helm of a local program. He has been extremely loyal to Coach Johnson and his players seem to play very hard for him. Congrats to Coach Kimbro.”
Kimbro has about 20 years of coaching experience with two Hall of Fame-worthy coaches.
Making this hire 13 years ago might have come with more stipulations, but Kimbro has been a part of the highs and lows of coaching football.
Hiring anyone else would have honestly been a mistake by the district, so kudos to Mattoon for paying attention to the task at hand.
Now, Kimbro gets a chance to show us what he can do. His time has finally come.