Association to recognize two Hall of Fame classes at annual clinic
Kansas State football head coach Chris Klieman and University of Kansas head coach Lance Leipold will headline the Kansas Football Coaches Association (KFBCA) Annual Clinic when the event returns after a nearly two-year hiatus thanks to last year’s COVID cancellation. The association will induct their second and third ever Hall of Fame Classes on the opening night of the event as well.
The clinic will start with registration at 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 20 and continue through noon on Monday, Feb. 21 at the Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview in Wichita. Following the Hall of Fame presentation at 7 p.m., Klieman is scheduled to speak at 7:30 p.m. followed by Leipold at 8:15 p.m.
In addition to the Hall of Fame inductions, the annual event will feature numerous high school and college coaches speaking on topics including program development, offensive and defensive schemes, strength and conditioning and more.
A few of the confirmed speakers for the event include: Phil Underwood, Offensive Coordinator, Rocky Mountain High School (Colo.); Drew Hudgins, Defensive Coordinator, Mill Valley; Jeff Conaway, Head Coach, Shiloh Christian School (Ark.); Clint Bowen, Head Coach, Lawrence High School; Chet Kuplen, Sports in Kansas; Cooper Harris, Defensive Coordinator, Fort Hays State University; Jeff Schwinn, Offensive Coordinator, Washburn University; Clint Rider, Head Coach, Blue Valley Northwest; Forrest Mazey, Head Coach, McAlester High School (Okla.); Brad Gober, Head Coach, Beloit High School; Andy Kotelnicki, Offensive Coordinator, University of Kansas; Darrell Stuckey, Director of Football Operations, University of Kansas and others.
The clinic is free to all KFBCA members and just $25 for individual non-members or $100 for entire staff’s that are not members of the association.
For more information visit the clinic page of the KFBCA website here
Here’s a brief look at each of the Hall of Fame inductees, starting with the 2021 class:
Ed Buller, Clyde/Clifton-Clyde
Buller is among the most successful high school football coaches in Kansas history, eventually amassing a record of 335-78-7 and an 80.6 winning percentage that ranks among the top marks nationally.
With a career that stretched from 1940-1984, Buller spent his first season - an undefeated one - at Bucklin High School, then moved on to Agenda High School from 1941-44, before taking a head coaching job at Clyde High School in 1945, a position he would stay in for 40 years, the last three at the newly consolidated Clifton-Clyde High School.
Buller had a losing record in his first year at Clyde, but that would be his last, as he went on to post 39 consecutive winning seasons. In that time, his teams had 10 undefeated marks, won 24 league championships, and won the 1A state title with an undefeated record in 1977.
In 1978, Buller was voted Kansas Coach of the Year and two years later, was nominated for National Coach of the Year. After his retirement in 1984, he was inducted into the KSHSAA Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.
On January 30th, 2008, Buller passed away at age 91, but his legacy lives on as the football field in Clyde bears the name Ed Buller Field.
Bill Freeman, Leroy/Osawatomie/Lawrence High
After a playing career at Emporia State during which he lettered four times as an offensive guard, Bill Freeman found a knack for molding winning teams during a high school career that lasted from 1953-1989. The Burlington, Kan., native held a 241-81-3 mark in that span and led teams at three different classifications to state titles, with six championships total - not counting unofficial titles in 1962 with Leroy High School and 1966 at Osawatomie High School.
After bouncing around to different football and track & field coaching positions between 1953 and 1965, including a 1960-64 stint at Leroy, Freeman took his play-calling to Osawatomie, where he won his second unofficial state title in 1966 and his first official title - recognized by KSHSAA - in 1973. He also coached eventual Green Bay Packers quarterback Lynn Dickey, an important member of the Trojans' '66 squad.
In 1974, Freeman took over the job at Lawrence High School and went on to win five more state titles in 1979, 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1989, while further displaying his winning knack with track and field state championships in 1989 and 1990 to close out his coaching career.
Freeman coached for a total of 36 years before retiring in 1990. He spent his time after football in Leroy, Kan., where he took part in local politics and continued careers in banking and farming.
On December 18, 2015, the legendary coach passed on at age 84 following a battle with Alzheimer’s. He was instrumental in the lives of many of his players and leaves behind a legacy as one of the most successful coaches in state history. His legacy also lives on thanks to the book “Heart of a Champion” written by his daughter, Jennifer Freeman-Liles. Freeman-Liles continues to use her father’s story to inspire, with the book serving to tell her father’s story, and to bring awareness to the battle for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
Alan Schuckman, Bishop Carroll
Alan Schuckman coached at Bishop Carroll for 22 seasons between 1994 and his retirement in January of 2017. His 182 wins in that time rank third best in Greater Wichita Athletic League history and also ranks in the top five in winning percentage in GWAL history.
Emphasizing player development in all aspects of life, Schuckman produced a number of Division I prospects in his time coaching the Eagles, including current Kansas City Chiefs tight end Blake Bell, who was an all-state quarterback in high school and played quarterback at the University of Oklahoma.
Schuckman’s approach led to two championships at Carroll, first in 2012 and then again in 2014, both undefeated seasons.
In January 2017, citing his belief in family first, Schuckman resigned from his position as head coach of the Eagles to focus more on his four daughters. His 2012 state title marked the second in program history and first since 1978 for Carroll.
Gene Wier, Olathe North
Gene Wier took over at Olathe North in 1981 after the division of Olathe High School into Olathe North and South. He quickly established the Eagles as a state power, winning enough games through the 80s and mid-90s to be considered among the best in the state.
But in 1996, Wier took North to a different level, winning six state championships between ‘96 and ‘02, including five undefeated seasons. Over that stretch, the Eagles went 79-4 and produced a number of Division I players, not the least of which was College Football Hall of Famer and NFL legend, Darren Sproles.
In 2003, Wier took a position as the Head Football Coach and Campus Athletics Coordinator at Richland High School in Texas and managed to produce three playoff appearances in nine seasons, despite taking over the coaching duties while the program was in a slump.
After his tenure in Texas, Wier moved back to Kansas in 2012 and again took over at Olathe North for three more seasons. In that span, he made the playoffs three times and advanced to the state semifinals twice.
After resigning from his position at Olathe North in December of 2014, Wier took a position as the Director of High School Relations for KU football under head coach David Beaty and continued in that role under Les Miles. Since leaving that position Wier is now an offensive line coach for powerhouse Mill Valley. His career mark as a head coach stands at 252-99.
The 2022 class includes:
Eric Driskell, Blue Valley
Few people can claim to have done more for a program than Eric Driskell did for Blue Valley High School in his 43 years of life.
Driskell first made his mark for the Tigers in 1991, helping legendary coach Steve Rampy’s squad to a 5A state title as a senior guard.
Driskell returned to Blue Valley in 1996 as an assistant coach under Rampy and was a part of another three state championship Tiger squads in that stretch - 1998, 2003 and 2006.
In 2009, with Rampy’s retirement, Driskell got his shot as head coach and did not squander it, taking his team to five state title games and winning two of them in 2010 and 2013.
Driskell unexpectedly suffered a brain aneurysm on February 15, 2017, and passed away that day. In just seven years as a head coach he compiled a 71-18 record with an appearance in the finals in all but two seasons.
Having been a three-time recipient of the award, the Kansas City Chiefs posthumously renamed the Kansas High School Coach of the Year Award in his honor.
Mark Littrell, Olathe South/Leavenworth
Mark Littrell became head coach at Olathe South High School in 1998, after spending 16 seasons there as an assistant, and wasted little time establishing himself by taking his team to the state title game in 1999, where they were narrowly defeated 14-7 by Garden City.
Littrell would post a 76-32 record over the next 10 years at South - winning four district titles, four regional championships, three sectional championships, and finishing as state runner-up three times.
In 2008, Littrell accepted a position at Richland High School in Texas and spent four years there and another at Birdville High School.
After five years in Dallas, Littrell returned to Kansas in 2013 and took over as head coach of Leavenworth High School where he took the Pioneers to the playoffs for only the second time in the school’s history in 2013, and then in 2014 led the Pioneers to their first district and regional championships in school history with a 6-5 mark.
Littrell wrapped up his coaching career in 2019 when he resigned from his Leavenworth position and he now works for Mammoth Sports Construction.
Gary O’Hair, Southwestern Heights/Andale
After graduating from Kansas State in 1981, Elkhart native Gary O’Hair took his first job at Andale High, where he taught biology and worked as an assistant for 10 years before taking over the head coaching position at Southwestern Heights High School located between Kismet and Plains, Kan. O’Hair remained at Southwestern Heights for 11 years, until a position as the head coach of Andale opened up.
O’Hair started at Andale in 2001 and wasted little time building up one of the strongest programs in the state over the next decade and a half. In 15 seasons with the Indians - 2002-2016 - O’Hair turned the Indians into a smashmouth football powerhouse and won three championships in the process in 2006, 2007 and 2014.
O’Hair completed one last successful season with the Indians in 2016 before wrapping up a 26-season career, he won 78 percent of the games he coached including a 220-63 record overall and 150-30 at Andale.
The championship seeds O’Hair planted with the program are still growing today, as Andale player and former assistant Dylan Schmidt took over for his coach and is coming off the program's third straight state championship with just two losses in his five seasons as head coach.
Rick Wheeler, Wichita Heights
Prior to Rick Wheeler taking the head coaching job at Wichita Heights the Falcons struggled on the gridiron, with just two winning seasons prior to Wheeler’s arrival. As the Falcons coach, Wheeler amassed a 110-37 record from 1999-2012.
In 2010, Wheeler’s efforts to build up the program paid off in the biggest way possible, as he brought Heights their only state championship since the school was established in 1961 with a dominant 48-14 victory over Olathe North. Wheeler’s Falcons also posted runner-up finishes in 2009 and 2011.
Retiring in 2012, Wheeler held the position of AD at Heights until 2019, when he stepped down. He is now employed by Lou’s Sporting Goods and enjoys spending time as a competitive fisherman.