On Monday night in closed executive session, the Sedalia School District 200 Board of Education accepted Mark Johnson’s retirement as Smith-Cotton High School football coach. Johnson will continue to teach physical education at the high school.
Johnson closes his career with a 155-111 record, going 85-70 during his 15 years at Smith-Cotton; in school history, his 85 wins are second only to Stub Dow, who had 86. Johnson’s Tigers teams were West Central Conference champions in 2001, 2002, 2008 and 2009, and district champs in 2003 and 2008, when they reached the state quarterfinals. Johnson was president of the Missouri Football Coaches Association for two years, and vice president of the group for six years.
Smith-Cotton Activities Director Rob Davis said: “I know that no coaching staff ever worked harder to prepare their kids than what Coach Johnson and his staff did over the past 15 years. We never went into a game where we were out-prepared. I firmly believe that. His work ethic and that of his coaches is second to none.”
Davis also praised Johnson for building a complete program and for instilling a positive work ethic in his players.
“I think the first year he got here, there were maybe three or four kids in the weight room,” Davis said. “They couldn’t get anybody to do the offseason stuff. Over the course of (Johnson’s) 15-year tenure here, you go down there preseason now and there’s 60-70 kids in the weight room, getting ready for the next year. So he taught our football kids how to work, how to prepare, and taught them what it takes to compete at this level of Class 5 football.”
In a prepared statement, Johnson said: “After 46 years of involvement with football—12 years of playing, 34 years of coaching, 26 of which were as a head football coach—it is time to step away from the game that has been my life for over four decades. … During my years in coaching, I have had the privilege of coaching some great kids, meeting some great parents, and working with some great assistant coaches. The kids have always been my motivation to be a better coach and person. I have always stressed commitment, sacrifice, hard work, accountability, and teamwork—pushing my players to be better people.
“I am most proud of bringing pride back to a program and city that had been missing for several decades. I know I will miss the Friday night lights; besides my family, it is the one constant that has remained throughout my life, but I am excited for the bright future for Smith-Cotton Tiger football. I would like to end by saying thank you to all of my administrators, students, parents, players, friends, coaches, and most of all, my family, for supporting me through all these years. We are S-C!”
District officials have begun a search for a successor. Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.