COLLINSVILLE — John Blaylock has plenty of ideas about why Collinsville has struggled on the football field for many years.
Blaylock, 45, hopes he is the man to correct the issues.
"I'm looking forward to it," said Blaylock, who was hired as the Kahoks' new coach Tuesday night. "It's a big challenge. It's going to be a lot of work; there's no question about that. I think it's going to go off pretty well. But we have our work cut out for us."
Blaylock, a 1985 graduate of Collinsville, succeeds Mike Liljegren, who was dismissed in November after 10 seasons. The Kahoks were 19-72 under Liljegren, including 1-8 overall and 1-6 in the Southwestern Conference last year.
Blaylock was an assistant at Collinsville from 1991-98 under three head coaches: Bob Hollingshead, John Jackson and Tim Kane. He resigned after the 1998 season and returned as a position coach in 2006. Since 2007, Blaylock has been Liljegren's defensive coordinator.
Blaylock also has spent 10 seasons coaching in the Collinsville Raiders program.
Blaylock said he had an opportunity to take over for Hollingshead when Hollingshead resigned after the 1993 season.
"I was asked by some board members if I would be willing to take the program over," Blaylock said. "I was a grand total of 26 years old, and I knew I wasn't ready. So I declined. I said, 'Thank you very much, but I'm not ready for this.'
"Luckily, it was a very smart move. They brought John Jackson in, and I learned an incredible amount of football from him. Having the ability to spend three years with that guy is like getting a master's degree in football."
After the 2002 season when Kane departed, Blaylock said he again wasn't in position to become a head coach. He was starting a new business, Max Mechanical Contractors in St. Charles, Mo., which he still runs, and he needed to devote the necessary time to help it succeed.
"It's a heating and cooling company that takes care of really big buildings," Blaylock said. "We take care of high-rises, campuses, manufacturing facilities, things like that.
"From a professional standpoint, I'm in a very good spot. I'm blessed that the business is in a spot where I've got some flexibility."
Blaylock said he believes he is at the right age to be a head coach.
"Football-wise, I'm ready for this," he said. "And frankly, I just don't see this window opening again within a time frame that I would be interested in grabbing ahold of it. What I mean by that is if I wait another seven years, I'm 52 and I don't think I would want to jump through the window at that point."
Blaylock called himself a "nontraditional pick" for the job.
"I'm not a teacher; I'm not in that (high-school) building," he said. "It's pretty rare at the (Class) 7A and 8A level to have a head coach that's not in the building. It took a lot of diligence out of the administration and the board. There was a lot of fine detail that we had to talk through and work through.
"I had to give them assurances that I had plans in place to take care of those details, given that I'm not in the building from 7 to 3 every day. It was a process."
Blaylock said the Kahoks will continue to run a 3-5 defense that he hopes isn't on the field as much as it has been in recent seasons. Offensively, he said Collinsville will be "double-wing, option-based, with the ability to throw the ball 10, 12 times a game."
"We've been taking the field 14 to 16 times per game as a defense," Blaylock said. "The high-school game is designed for an offense to have the ball between eight and 10 times. We're taking the field five to six times more than that, so we have been incredibly exposed.
"One, we haven't been moving the ball very well. Two, we don't eat up much clock. That puts the defense out there a lot. I think our defense is going to look pretty good ... if it's only taking the field the normal eight to 10 times."
Blaylock considers himself a high-energy man and he hopes Collinsville players mirror his work ethic and enthusiasm.
"The players tend to match the coach's personality," Blaylock said. "I'm not saying calm coaches always coach calm teams. Those players tend to match their position coach's or their coordinator's personality.
"But in this case ... this is a high-energy position. The kids are going to have to see that energy (and) they're going to have to feel that energy. Obviously, what we want them to do is match that energy. Actually, I'm 45, so I want them to exceed my energy."
Blaylock doesn't anticipate a quick fix, particularly in the SWC, a league that typically has four or five playoff qualifiers.
"No promises the first year," Blaylock said. "Any coach with a brain would say the first year could be a little rough. But with that being said, I think we have some good football players coming back."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.