Prep football: Father-son duos leading Southeastern

Southeastern's A.J. Woods is joined on the coaching staff by his father Rick Woods, Steve Bartlett and Clint Bartlett. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED
Southeastern's A.J. Woods is joined on the coaching staff by his father Rick Woods, Steve Bartlett and Clint Bartlett. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

After being hired to take over the football program at his alma mater last spring, Southeastern High School football coach A.J. Woods made two phone calls.

The first was to childhood friend and then-Twin Valley South head football coach Clint Bartlett.

Woods and Bartlett grew up together on the sidelines at Trojan Stadium watching their fathers coach football on Friday nights. Steve Bartlett served as head football coach at Southeastern from 1987 through 1994 and Rick Woods was a longtime assistant coach with the program.

ExploreWeek 3 Schedule

More than 25 years later, they’ve reunited in South Charleston. A.J. Woods is the team’s head coach and offensive coordinator, while Clint Bartlett is the team’s defensive coordinator. Steve Bartlett and Rick Woods coach the offensive and defensive lines.

The second phone call A.J. Woods made was to his father.

“When Steve said he was coming back, I felt pressured,” Rick Woods said with a smile.

“That’s funny because that’s the same way I felt when I heard Woody was coming back,” Steve Bartlett said.

Steve Bartlett went 50-30 in eight seasons at Southeastern before taking over the program at Dayton Carroll. He led the Patriots to a record of 116-62 from 1995 through 2010, advancing to the playoffs nine times in 16 seasons. He later coached at Miami Trace, posting a 28-24 record and two playoff appearances. He will be inducted into the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame next year as part of the 2020 class.

ExploreOHSAA names new director

“It’s been fun,” Steve Bartlett said. “You see a lot of good people you haven’t seen in awhile. There’s a lot of good people here in South Charleston.”

Rick Woods coached the Trojans baseball team for 25 years and finished with a career record of 361-277. He was inducted into the Miami Valley Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007 and into the Springfield/Clark County Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009.

The elder Bartlett and Woods and special teams coordinator Chris Kitchen have more than 100 years of coaching experience.

“You’ve got to use the knowledge they’ve got. There’s a lot of things I ask them, not just daily, but hourly, especially with these new challenges (regarding COVID-19)” A.J. Woods said.

The idea of coming back to Southeastern has always been in the cards since the Bartlett family left for Carroll, Clint Bartlett said. Last year, Twin Valley South played a scrimmage game at Southeastern.

“When (A.J.) got the job, the stars seemed to align just right,” Clint Bartlett said. “The social studies job opened up. Everything seemed to align correctly. It’s awesome to be back.”

Southeastern High School's Tanner Stoops runs the ball during their game against Triad last season in South Charleston. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED
Southeastern High School's Tanner Stoops runs the ball during their game against Triad last season in South Charleston. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Michael Cooper

Credit: Michael Cooper

Not much has changed in South Charleston since Bartlett last coached. The Trojans still play at the same stadium on South Church Street nestled in front of the high school. Many of the same families still live in the district. Steve Bartlett and Rick Woods are now coaching the sons of some of their former players, including senior offensive lineman Brady Spears. His father, Kevin, played for the Trojans in the mid-90s.

“I’ve enjoyed it a lot,” Brady Spears said. “I’ve heard a lot of stories from my Dad. It’s cool to experience it myself.”

The veteran coaches brought a new level of intensity to the program, Brady Spears said.

“It’s a lot different,” he said. “There’s a lot of rules. It’s taken a lot of getting used to, but I’m enjoying it. It’s a great thing to have them back here and get some of that spark going again.”

The goal, A.J. Woods said, is to bring back the Trojan tradition. Southeastern hasn’t had a winning record since 2009.

“We’ve got to get better every day,” A.J. Woods said. “It’s a weird season. Everybody is in the playoffs already. You’re just looking to move forward a little bit every single day.”

The Trojans (0-2, 0-1) host Catholic Central (0-2, 0-1) in an Ohio Heritage Conference South Division game on Friday night in South Charleston. The Trojans won 50-0 last season.

Here’s a glance at the area’s other games:

Greater Western Ohio Conference

Fairmont (0-2, 0-1) at Springfield (2-0, 1-0): The Wildcats have won back-to-back games against the Firebirds, including a 19-14 victory in the 2018 playoffs.

CBC Kenton Trail Division

Shawnee (2-0, 1-0) at Tecumseh (1-1, 0-1): The Braves are 7-3 in the last 10 years against the Arrows and won last year’s meeting 63-21.

London (2-0, 1-0) at Kenton Ridge (0-2, 0-1): Cougars junior quarterback Noah Moore rushed for 102 yards on 26 carries in their 35-7 loss at Jonathan Alder in Week 2.

CBC Mad River Division

North Union (2-0, 1-0) at Graham (2-0, 1-0): Falcons senior quarterback Brady King leads the CBC in passing with 346 yards. The Wildcats beat Graham 56-10 last season.

Benjamin Logan (0-2, 0-1) at Urbana (0-2, 0-1): The Hillclimbers fell to the Raiders last season after winning back-to-back games in 2017 and 2018.

OHC North Division

Triad (1-1, 0-1) at Mechanicsburg (2-0, 1-0): The Indians have won the Battle of Ohio 559 six years in a row.

West Jefferson (1-1, 0-1) at Northeastern (1-1, 0-1): The two top passing attacks in the OHC will face-off in Springfield. Jets sophomore quarterback Cade Houseman ranks second in the OHC in passing yards (423) and rushing yards (201).

Fairbanks (2-0, 1-0) at West Liberty-Salem (2-0, 1-0): The Panthers handed the West Liberty-Salem its only regular season loss last season, 26-20 in Week 7.

OHC South Division

Greenon (1-1, 1-0) at Madison Plains (1-1, 1-0): The Knights have won the last two matchups after falling to the Eagles in 2017.

Cedarville (0-2, 0-1) at Greeneview (1-1, 1-0): The Rams have won six straight games against their Greene County rivals.