Mount St. Mary senior linebacker and tight end Joe Mussatto feels a little more inspired on the football field this season.
“Everyone's got a different mindset this year,” Mussatto said. “In years past, we haven't had the confidence we have now. The new coaching staff has really got us all excited about the new season.”
For his part, Chris Stiles didn't expect to be back in coaching.
After Stiles, the former Lawton Eisenhower and Westmoore coach, and his wife, who is a St. Mary alum, decided to enroll their son in the school as a freshman, Stiles became the school's advancement director, a job he has held for the last six years. But when former football coach Dal Nichols resigned in January, the job piqued his interest.
“I still have a love and passion for football, but I didn't think I would coach again,” said Stiles, who played at Oklahoma State under Jimmy Johnson and Pat Jones and later coached under Jones at OSU and under Lou Holtz at Notre Dame.
“This opportunity came about, and the more I thought about it, the more excited I got about it. I just thought myself and the staff we can put together and the kids that are here on campus could change this program. We could be the ones that turn Mount St. Mary football.”
Stiles, who led Lawton Eisenhower to a state runner-up finish in 1992, turned to two friends and former head coaches to help him with that mission, which involves changing the culture in a football program that hasn't experienced a winning season in 26 years.
Former Putnam City coach Mark Little, who retired after the 2008 season, returned to coaching to be the Rockets' offensive coordinator under Stiles. St. Mary's defensive coordinator is Dale Brown, who is the former head coach at Norman North.