It was a simple, easy match.
Victoria Sayler is the choir director and Music Department Chair at Twin Lakes High School. Kevin Sayler, her husband, wanted to work within the same school system as his wife, which he hasn’t done the past three years.
Pending school board approval, he will.
Twin Lakes Superintendent Michael Galvin and Athletic Director Kent Adams announced the hiring of former Carroll head coach Kevin Sayler as the school’s next head football coach starting July 1.
“I would like to confirm the offer of intent to employ made by Mrs. Melissa Whitehead, Twin Lakes high school principal, as the new Twin Lakes varsity football coach and physical education teacher,” read in part a letter from Galvin. “Your contract will officially begin on July 1 for this position. Due to the COVID-19 crisis and Governor (Eric) Holcomb’s executive order, you will officially be approved for these positions during the next regular school board meeting.”
Sayler noted “the Monticello community has always been a special place for me.”
“When you look at jobs and things that are available, it’s great to work in the same corporation as your spouse. Twin Lakes has tremendous facilities and it’s in a great athletic conference.
“The school was attractive, the community was attractive. Being able to work the same calendar as my wife, it all kind of added up.”
Sayler was the Cougars’ head coach the past three seasons, guiding the Class 1A program to a 17-14 record. The Cougars were 1-3 in postseason. He was offensive coordinator at Carroll before being named head coach, and was also an assistant at Portage and multiple middle schools (Logansport, Fegley) prior to joining the Cougars.
“We believe he will positively impact the lives of students and athletes by cultivating life skills that will transfer beyond the football field or weight room,” Galvin wrote.
There were 25 initial applicants for the position after former head coach and Indiana Hall of Famer Scott Mannering retired from his positions earlier this year. The pool included in-house applicants, but Adams wouldn’t reveal how many, or how many finalists were discussed before Sayler was tabbed.
“His successful experience at the varsity level” was one of multiple determining factors, Adams added.
Sayler’s Cougars set 20 school records on offense in the past five years with a spread-based model. His quarterbacks have thrown for an average of 1,756 yards per season since 2016, when he was named offensive coordinator at Carroll, with 71 touchdowns and 49 interceptions. Sophomore quarterback Heath Richardson threw for 1,569 yards last season, with 14 scores and 16 picks.
“I’m a spread guy, but I love to have balance,” Sayler said. “The thing I’m proud of the most is we set the average yards per carry record two out of the three years (I was head coach).
“We were really efficient running the ball, and I think our pass game helped set that up.”
Carroll averaged 6.6 yards per carry last season, and 179 rush yards per game in 2019. The pass average was 157 yards per game. In two of his three seasons, the Cougars outscored their opposition, with a 33-point difference last season and a margin of plus-206 in 2017 to go with an 8-2 record. Their 412 points was ranked 18th in the state that season.
“I’m a fan of RPOs, and tempo stuff,” Sayler said. “We try to make it so that the offense is in attack mode all the time. We’ll be aggressive. When we’ve got the dudes, we can ramp up the scoring.”
As of Wednesday morning, he had yet to speak with his future student-athletes and noted he hasn’t studied much film, but joked he will now. Adams noted the current COVID-19 pandemic didn’t have much of an impact on the coaching search because “everything is a virtual online meeting at this point.”
Sayler noted he’s adjusting as everyone else does, both at Carroll and in preparation for next year at Twin Lakes.
“We’ll try to set up some virtual meetings to try to get to know the kids and get some stuff to them, starting teaching the offense and things like that,” Sayler said. “We all know it’s going to be a different offseason. We don’t know when we’re coming back, so we’re just trying to get our head wrapped around that and plan to deal with it.
“I know from talking with a lot of people the kids have been working hard during the offseason and I want to give them the best 2020 season that they can have.”
Galvin noted like Mannering, Sayler has a focus on improving the student-athlete as a whole person. Eleven former Cougars signed to play college football in his three seasons at the helm.
“Kevin has shown that meticulous planning along with teaching, inspiring, challenging and supporting the players in his program has led to a culture of heart and passion, which is required for success,” Galvin wrote.
Sayler was particularly proud of that resume line.
“We really believe in developing the individual, and when we can do that on and off the field, good things happen,” he added. “I want to be the kind of program where we have kids getting opportunities to go to the next level and play.
“I want to be one of those programs that is consistent and can compete in the Hoosier Conference. Be in a situation where we can be competitive in the sectional, have an opportunity to advance.”