SAVANNAH, Mo. — Randy Schrader knows he has one stone left unturned.
After dragging Washington (Iowa) High School to the Class 3A state championship game, Schrader, a veteran head coach of 26 years, finally reached the pinnacle of his career. Until he didn’t.
His Demons lost what he intended to be the final game of his coaching career, retiring after the 2013 season.
On Wednesday, Schrader earned another chance to capture that elusive championship bling with his introduction as the next leader of the Savannah Savages.
“I had retired after the 2013 season in Iowa and went out with a bang — got to play for a state championship — and thought, ‘I’m done. I have no more to do.’ In my whole scheme of things, I was retired,” Schrader said in front of a crowd of teachers, students and media. “I became very good at knowing where the best place to buy Tide is. I do a great job of doing laundry; I even fold it now.
“But I don’t have a yard to mow, so I needed something to do.”
Schrader and his wife, Denise, were content with settling in northern Illinois until she received an offer to become an administrator with Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph. In need of a hobby, Schrader got back into coaching the defensive line last season under Tony Dudik at Bishop LeBlond.
For the first time in 20 years, Schrader was not a head coach. But that all changed after just a few months.
“When we started this process, I said ‘I want this to be the last time I wanted to hire a football coach,” Savannah Principal Dr. Robert Sigrist said. “I want our kids at Savannah to have some stability and I want them to have an outstanding coach, the kind of coach they deserve.
“At the end of the process, we felt like (Schrader) was our unanimous choice.”
Schrader’s reason for jumping back into the head coaching realm was simple: Win a state title.
A year after dipping his toes into the Midland Empire Conference, he saw a chance to turnaround a 1-9 program that survived just one year under Jim Wolfe.
“I had kind of an idea of what you had talent-wise coming back, what you could do pretty good, what you didn’t do real good, and really saw this as an opportunity,” Schrader said.
“You wanna be a one-horse town. You wanna be the biggest show on Friday night.”
Between stops through Iowa and Illinois, including a gig with Division III Rockford College in the Prairie State, Schrader amassed 107 wins and built an application athletic director Chad Dreyer couldn’t pass up.
“The biggest thing is his head coaching experience. He’s been a head coach for 20-plus year,” Dreyer said. “His resume was impeccable. He’s got 100 wins and our kids deserve a man that’s gonna be good for them on the field, off the field and give us a chance to win on Friday.”
The Savages averaged just more than 11 points per game last season, a trend Schrader’s up-tempo, no-huddle offense will help cure. Along with experimenting with his usual four-man front defense and the intriguing nature of a three-man front, the fate of the existing coach staff is under review as Schrader hopes to turn the Savages into a team that contend with Maryville for an MEC title with himself as the offensive coordinator.
He asked one thing of the players present in the Savannah High School library Wednesday.
“You gotta bring the juice, boys. You’re gonna play for me, you better bring the juice,” Schrader said. “You’ve gotta bring it everyday. What are you in charge of? Attitude and effort.”
With all the job security in the world behind a proven track record of turning around downtrodden programs, Dreyer emphasized his faith in Schrader accomplishing his goals in Savannah.
A state title is never a sure thing, but the way Schrader’s teams will play is.
“When we go out and play on the first Friday night, I guarantee you we’ll be the best conditioned team in the state of Missouri. We’ll play as fast as anybody in the state of Missouri. We’ll be the most physical team in the state of Missouri,” Schrader said.
“At the end of the night, win or lose, the scoreboard will take care of itself. People are gonna go, ‘Wow. Wow.’ ”