Stockton High School has a new head coach for its football team. Luke Rader will be taking the torch and leading the tigers into this fall’s season — a season which, according to the Missouri State High School Activities Association, is still happening despite this year’s pandemic.

Rader will also be teaching freshmen physical education, as well as boys weights, at Stockton High School.

Speaking of his coaching experience in football, Rader said he began coaching in 2005 as an assistant coach at Lockwood High School, where he graduated high school, until 2009; he then became the head football coach at Sarcoxie High School, and went back to Lockwood for the past four years.

“You just learn so many things by doing it that you don’t even realize are part of the job until you start doing it,” Rader said. “So just like any other career, until you get in it and start those things, you really don’t know what you’re getting into. So the experience is invaluable.”

Looking ahead this year to his first go-around at being the Tigers head coach, Rader said the big things the team has talked about is wanting the boys to serve each other and be good teammates.

“Hopefully, that carries over to off-the-field — that they’re serving people off the field, whether it’s other kids in school or people in the community,” Rader said. “We’ve talked about competing regardless of any outside influences, and those are things we want to see carry over in their life as they get older — that it doesn’t matter what’s going on, you control what you control and do the best you can.”

The Tigers big focus this year is for the players to be “good people,” Rader said. “And if they’re good people, they’ll improve as football players also.”

Another focus at this point in pre-season is getting to hone-in on the “little things,” Rader said, adding getting better at the little things will make the “big things” happen.

Compared to the previous teams Rader has coached, he said this seems more comparable to his time at Sarcoxie; initially at Lockwood, Rader said a lot of things “were kept the same.”

“Whereas this is all new to the kids, so they’re having to adjust to all of that and get used to not only the terminology, a play call, things like that, but just the routine of practice and the expectations,” Rader said.

This summer has been a lot of adjustment for the Tigers, Rader added.

Speaking on where he hopes to see the Tigers at the end of the season, Rader said the team has talked a lot about their performance — specifically, what they call a “performance-potential gap.”

“Are we performing at our full potential?” Rader said. “And so, regardless of who you’re playing, you should have a standard you’re trying to strive to. All the little things — am I stepping on the right path, are my eyes where they need to be, is my head where it needs to be? — doing all of those things is where we’re really striving for.”

And when all of those factors are combined with full effort, “you can reach your full potential, and that’s really the goal,” Rader said.

Rader said he sees himself being at SHS for hopefully a long time.

“We enjoy the community, we like being here, so hopefully I’m here for a while,” Rader said.

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