A Plano Senior alum, new Plano West offensive coordinator Stephen Tyler is intimately familiar with Plano ISD.
Before following former West assistant coach Kelly Mercer to Longview Spring Hill, his last job before being brought on this offseason to direct the Wolves’ offense under new head coach Tyler Soukup, Tyler spent a decade inside the district at Renner Middle School, Jasper High School and West.
That knowledge of PISD and its feeder system was one aspect, Tyler said, of what helped land him his new gig under Soukup. Another was his experience at Spring Hill, where he was a part of a staff under Mercer that was faced with a similar rebuilding task to what Soukup is undertaking with the Wolves.
“When we went out to Spring Hill, it was a program that hadn’t had a lot of success,” Tyler said. “Some years, they weren’t very competitive. So learning how to build a football culture and learning how to establish an identity [was important].”
Though he originally applied to return to West as an offensive line coach, his first conversation with Soukup took a different turn. The new man at the helm asked him to instead consider the coordinator position, where he’ll help the former Hebron offensive coordinator attempt to turn around a Wolves offense that averaged fewer than 13 points per outing in 2018.
In doing that, Tyler said his philosophy is more about getting his athletes to adhere to core concepts and focus on the “how” more than the “what.”
“A lot of times, how we do things is just as important as what we’re doing,” he said. “It’s setting that tone and setting the culture and learning how to fit what we’re doing to the kids that we’re coaching and trying to put them in the best opportunity for them to be successful.”
Overall, the offensive-line-minded Tyler will look toward an offense that’s predicated on working off of the run to set up the pass and taking shots when they present themselves.
That running game will lose alum Noah Scroggins, and Tyler envisions a largely by-committee approach that could be complemented by athletic returners like junior Jacob Stephens. More than anything else, he said, that puzzle of slotting players into positions where they can be successful is critical.
“It’s all about relationships and connecting with those kids,” Tyler said. “From a scheme standpoint, it doesn’t matter if you’re running the spread or you’re running the wing T. Scheme is scheme, and they all work for different people, but what’s important is getting those kids to believe in what you’re doing and to have an understanding of how and why.”
Soukup will make the final decision at the quarterback position, where a battle between seniors Wyatt Johnson, Danny Davis and Will Cannon and Andrew Picco still rages on. While one will get the nod, Tyler envisions each of them having an impact on the Wolves’ attack.
Outside, Tyler has been impressed with senior wideout Tavarius Garland, who he said has grown into a leader during the new regime’s transition this summer.
“To me, he’s grown this summer. … He’s starting to lead through our summer workouts,” he said. “He’s kind of taken a leadership role in the weight room and on the track, just talking to guys and motivating guys.”
Tyler, who said he and his family are happy to be back home, has already been welcomed with open arms.
“When I was interviewing, I walked out of the interview, and some guys that were freshmen when I was there last – the bell rang, and kids were coming out in the hallway, and I hear, ‘Coach Tyler,’” he said. “I turned around, and they gave me a hug and everything.
“It’s been nice to be back.”
For continued coverage of the local sports scene, follow @TaylorRaglin on Twitter.