170101_sports_Schoonover

North Andrew head football coach Jonathan Schoonover instructs his players during a game against Falls City last year.

ROSENDALE, Mo. — For the past five years, Jonathan Schoonover has called plays from the sideline during the biggest 8-man football game of the year in Missouri.

It paled in comparison to his task Monday morning.

Schoonover called his players in for a meeting and told him after three state championships, including the last year’s, he will move on to new ventures at Harrisonville High School next football season.

“The hardest part is to tell the boys that have worked for you for four years, three years and two and have given their heart to you. That’s the hardest thing to do,” Schoonover said. “When you’ve built a program and are part of a program that’s being built, to leave and leave those kids here, there can be mixed emotions, but those kids know that I love them and they love us, too.

The Mound City, Missouri, native and reigning All-News-Press 8-Man Coach of the Year returned what was a state power in the ’90s to among the state’s most consistent programs in the past five years.

Since his hiring, North Andrew went 62-2 with appearances in the state championship all five years. The Cardinals went 3-2 against rival Stanberry in those contests.

“You know, we’ve had success. The kids, they’ve done everything that I’ve asked them to do,” Schoonover said. “They’ve done it wholeheartedly. The parents allowed me to coach their kids the way we coach. It’s been a great experience. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m thankful for what we accomplished here.”

Schoonover went on to become a standout wide receiver at Missouri Western and in professional arena football. He tirelessly worked to build a culture at North Andrew, getting his team to buy into the mantra of the most important play being the next play.

Known for his fire on the practice field, in the weight room and on game day, Benedictine-bound Deryk Goff admitted it was tough to buy into at first.

“Well I can tell you my freshman year we butted heads. I didn’t like him very much, I’ll be honest,” Goff said. “But my relationship just grew with him.”

North Andrew returns a bevy of talent in a class of seniors-to-be, led by the All-News-Press quarterback-receiver duo of Jacob Powelson and Caleb Patterson.

Brandon Zenner can be reached at brandon.zenner@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowZenner.