UPDATED: Pritchard tabbed to lead Paxton-Buckley-Loda football

UPDATED: Pritchard tabbed to lead Paxton-Buckley-Loda football

PAXTON — Even if Josh Pritchard can’t claim the lengthiest prep football coaching resume, one portion of his list stands out.

Fresh off graduating from Southeast Missouri State in 2011 with a degree in secondary business education, Pritchard received the opportunity to serve as Oblong football’s defensive coordinator.

In his mind, he “got lucky right out of college.” One year later, the club earned its first-ever postseason berth while allowing 20.6 points per contest.

Pritchard’s next challenge will involve a program with much richer history, but expecting similar results.

The Paxton-Buckley-Loda district school board on Wednesday night approved Pritchard as the Panthers’ next gridiron leader.

Pritchard replaces Jeff Graham, who resigned in March after 12 years guiding PBL, split between two stints, to take superintendent and principal roles at Ludlow Grade School.

“They’ve been to the playoffs a lot of years, mostly under Coach Graham,” said Pritchard, who will teach business courses at the high school. “Any time you can go to a tradition-rich school that pushes sports, and football in general ... that’s something I want to be a part of.”

Pritchard most recently was the boss for two seasons at Petersburg PORTA after another two campaigns as an assistant. The Bluejays compiled a 5-13 record with Pritchard in charge.

The 30-year-old graduate of Triad High in Troy also worked as a defensive coordinator at Charleston (Mo.).

“I was at the coaching clinic in Champaign, and I talked to a few coaches who pushed me to apply for (the PBL job), thinking it was a good position,” Pritchard said. “I figured I’d throw my name in the hat.”

Pritchard and wife Courtney — the two were married March 23 of this year — knew Pritchard secured the spot about two weeks before Wednesday’s announcement.

“I’m excited,” Pritchard said. “I talked with Coach (and athletic director Brock) Niebuhr right after the board meeting to try and set up a meeting with the assistant coaches Friday, and anyone else who wants to see the new coach.”

Pritchard recognizes the sizable shoes he has to fill stepping in for Graham, who pushed PBL to eight Class 3A playoff appearances and a 67-52 ledger.

“Obviously, I want to continue on the success,” Pritchard said. “Winning is pretty important, but it’s not everything. I want to turn out good kids and keep the tradition going.”

Pritchard said he’s held conversations with Graham, Panthers baseball coach Niebuhr and PBL boys’ basketball head Adam Schonauer since learning of his appointment, hoping to build upon any athlete crossover between the sports.

“(Graham) makes it sound like we have tons of hardworking kids,” Pritchard said. “Big, physical, weight room-type kids.”

And Pritchard aims to use that identity to his new team’s advantage, even if he won’t have an abundance of time with which to prepare for the 2019 season.

“I’m probably the most energetic coach you’ll ever meet,” Pritchard said. “Football’s the thing I have passion for. We’re going to be tough, run the ball and have people know we’re there to play a football game.”

 

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PAXTON — Josh Pritchard will lead the Paxton-Buckley-Loda football program in its 2019 season after being approved by the district school board Wednesday night.

Pritchard replaces Jeff Graham, who resigned in March after 12 years guiding the Panthers to take the superintendent and principal roles at Ludlow Grade School.

“Coach Graham has done a tremendous job there,” Pritchard said. “I figured I’d throw my name in the hat ... and give it a try and carry on the tradition.”

The 30-year-old played high school football for Troy Triad and most recently spent four seasons on the staff of Petersburg PORTA, including the last two as its head coach. The Bluejays tabbed a 5-13 record in that pair of campaigns.

Pritchard previously was a defensive coordinator at Oblong and Charleston (Mo.).

“I’m the most energetic coach you’ll ever meet,” Pritchard said. “Football’s the thing I have passion for. We’re going to be tough, run the ball and have people know we’re there to play a football game.”

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