BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — If there was a level more certain than a no-brainer, slam-dunk decision, Maumee’s hiring Evan Karchner as its next head football coach would totally fit that description.
Any box a discerning or critical fan or community member could have, Karchner checks it.
Deep history with Maumee athletics? Check.
Experience playing football at one of the highest levels collegiately? Check.
Coaching in college and for some of the best high school coaches in Northwest Ohio? Check.
The shorter list might be figuring out reasons for the school district to not hire Karchner, which amounts to, well, nothing.
“It was always a dream of mine to be the head coach here,” Karchner said. “I played for John Boles, he was the reason I got into coaching. It’s a really special thing, he was one of the first guys I texted when I got the job.
“Maumee is a special place, a special place to be and grow up and go to school. I’m just really excited for this opportunity.”
According to Maumee athletic director Cam Coutcher, there were more than 30 applicants for the job, which he believes shows how high an opinion people have of Maumee High School, the football program and the community.
“Luckily, we had some really, really good candidates who applied, and we were able to interview several,” Coutcher said. “Evan really stood out above the rest. He checked all the boxes. We’re really happy we were able to hire him.”
Karchner takes over for Coutcher, who stepped down as the coach after accepting the athletic director position in August. Coutcher coached the Panthers last season.
The newly appointed Karchner comes to Maumee after one season as the head coach at Evergreen, which went 3-7 last year with wins over North Baltimore, Montpelier and Swanton.
The Panthers were 0-10 last season, their third straight winless season. They haven’t won a game since beating Southview in 2019. There is plenty of talent among the current underclassmen, however, giving plenty of hope to people around the program.
“I’ve seen a little bit, I’ve seen some of the kids and obviously I’ve talked to Cam,” Karchner said. “Cam’s done a really good job building that culture and moving it forward from the previous years. I just want to keep building off that and do things the right way.”
Karchner also brings college experience with him. He played at Bowling Green and he coached at BGSU, Youngstown State and Wake Forest.
Before graduating, Karch-ner made his name for the Panthers. He was selected to multiple all-district and all-state teams in football, as well as competing as a standout in baseball and swimming.
He brings a special relationship with Coutcher and MHS principal Scott Perrotte. Coutcher was his baseball coach and Perrotte was his social studies teacher.
“They’ve known me for a long time,” Karchner said. “Cam was one of the guys making sure I wasn’t going anywhere other than Maumee (in high school).
“That’s a really special thing because there’s that bond there, that trust. (Coutcher) knows how I work and how I roll, and I know the same with him. It’s a really special opportunity that doesn’t come around very often. I’m excited to see what we can do together.”
As happens to many strong athletes who come up through the Maumee school system, the allure and possibility of playing for one of the local private Catholic schools was there when Karchner left Gateway Middle School for high school. He understands the importance of keeping Maumee kids in Maumee.
“When good kids come along, we want to keep them here, we want to keep them Maumee kids,” Karchner said. “I was one of those kids who was decent at Gateway and I was going to St. John’s, St. Francis, Central Catholic, all that stuff. Maumee, you can get noticed.
“It’s important to let those kids know they’re important and they need to be here and represent Maumee.
“I’d say, ‘Come here and let’s go play St. John’s.’ I’m OK with doing that.”
While Karchner credits his former coaches in Coutcher and Boles for helping shape him as a coach, he also spent a few seasons at Eastwood, coaching under the legendary Jerry Rutherford and his son, Craig.
“I’d say I learned from the best in the Rutherfords,” Karchner said. “They’ve won a lot of football games. They took me under their wing.
“When I got there, I remember Craig told his dad, ‘We have one job, to get him ready to be a head coach.’ They were some of the first guys that called me when this all came out. They’re happy for me.”
Not coincidentally, the Panthers will be joining the league Eastwood has long ruled, the Northern Buckeye Conference. Karchner knows it will be a challenge, but it’s one he is up for.
“The NBC is a tough league,” Karchner said. “The (Northern Lakes League) was always tough, but the NBC is no slouch.
“The way we’re going and going off what Coach Coutcher did, I have no doubt that we’ll have success there.”
While the results didn’t always show up on the scoreboard, observers of the Maumee football program could see progress and strides made in Coutcher’s four years as the head coach. Stepping away wasn’t an easy decision, but it’s now become easier with Karchner at the reins.
“When you put as much time as I have in this place, whether it be as a student-athlete or coach, teacher, whatever capacity, you hire people and look for people who have the similar vision as you and have similar values,” Coutcher said.
“When you hand over something you’ve put so much work into … it’s nice to be able to have someone you can trust and that has similar values and expectations.”