HOUSTON – John Hoye wanted to ride the momentum of John Cooper’s greatest season in program history when it came to attracting a top-tier candidate for the next head coach.
Erik DeHaven fit the bill.
The St. Pius X coach was formally introduced on Tuesday as John Cooper’s new head coach exiting Pius X after five years, spending last season as the Panthers head coach.
“We had a really good season and we wanted to capitalize on that and I think we’re at a crossroads where we’ve done a lot of introductory things and we have established ourselves in our early years of SPC,” Hoye, the John Cooper School athletic director, said. “We’ve made some noise this year and I think we’ll be competitive again next year. I think you always want a coach that you have confidence in to continue what you’ve been doing.
“I think he has the ability to do that.”
DeHaven takes over John Cooper School with 18 years of coaching experience at the high school, college and professional level.
“The biggest thing for me is to build something from the ground up,” DeHaven said. “Cooper had a great season last year. I’m at a point in my coaching career the opportunity for the first time to really get into a K-12 school and grow them homegrown is something that really excites me.”
The search was nationwide and Hoye said they received more than 70 applications. Three finalists were brought on campus and were great candidates but Hoye continued to say DeHaven stood out in the process.
In his most recent stop, DeHaven helped guide St. Pius X to a No. 1 ranking in the state and was named a finalist for the Touchdown Club of Houston Private School Coach of the Year Award.
“The last five years have been some of the best years of my life as far as coaching,” DeHaven said about St. Pius X. “Tremendous support from the athletic director to head of schools. The kids are honestly a direct reflection of who they are from eight to three and it shows up on the field. It was a blessing and a tremendous opportunity to be there.
“Just like anything in life, I felt like the time is now.”
DeHaven is taking over a young program as John Cooper School just completed its eighth season.
The Dragons are coming off their best year in program history, going 9-1 and finishing as runner-ups in the Southwest Preparatory Conference 3A State Championship game.
DeHaven wants to continue that upward trend as he takes over.
“When you leave a place like St. Pius that has such rich history and tradition and John Cooper’s been a program for eight years in football, so it gives you a big opportunity to put your stamp on it,” DeHaven said. “And move them in a direction that hopefully represents their school as well.”
Along with wins in his career, DeHaven has been good at getting players to the next level.
At St. Pius X signing day in December, four players signed Division I National Letters of Intent, including record-setting quarterback Grant Gunnell and wide receiver Jalen Curry signing with Arizona.
In his career, DeHaven has sent 71 players to the next level, five of which became All-Americans.
“Obviously he has a proven record of producing student athletes to go on to the next level,” Hoye said. “One thing that came out in our interviews was the relationships that he’s really built with thos players.”
Hiring DeHaven as their new head coach, Hoye said he knew that would “turn some eyes” and slightly compared it to the impact the University of Houston had when it hired Dana Hoelgersen from West Virginia.
The excitement of Hoye and the administration of The John Cooper School were felt by DeHaven in the process.
“You can tell they are eager and excited to continue to build their program,” DeHaven said. “Cooper is an opportunity to do some phenomenal things. That really gets me going.”
When it comes to what his coaching staff is going to look like, DeHaven said a lot of meetings have to take place for that.
As far as what kind of football team DeHaven wants to put on the field every Friday night next falls, he has a clear vision of that.
“I know we want to play exciting type of football just like they have in the past,” DeHaven said. “We’re going to throw that thing around and be very aggressive on defense. There’s a lot of former coaches from their past staff that’s there and I’m excited and eager to sit down with them talk ball and see if our philosophies match up.”