Osage defensive line coach Brock Ezard had a pretty good high school football experience.
The 2001 Camdenton graduate was a member of the 1999 state championship team and went on to play defensive line for Westminster College, but once his playing days were over he quickly realized that he could not be away from the gridiron. That was when he decided that his calling was to be a coach and educator.
“I was a bad player on a really good team,” Ezard said laughingly about the 1999 season. “Just the morale and building a tradition made me feel good and that is why I could not get away from this. I want kids to have that same feeling. I want them to have fun on Friday nights and I want them to look forward to playing football.”
After graduating college, Ezard got his start in Buffalo, Mo., where he taught elementary physical education and coached the offensive line for three years. Then a chance to come back to the lake presented itself and Ezard pounced on it.
“I thought Osage was a great spot and I’ve always heard great things about this school,” Ezard said of the school just down the road from his alma matter. “Coming back to the lake was important to me so I was fortunate enough to get hired at the Upper Elementary to teach P.E., and coach high school football with these great guys and coach middle school track and field as well.”
Now in his ninth year with the Indians and 12th overall as a coach, Ezard said one of the most rewarding parts of his experience was to learn that he could make a difference in the lives of the kids he coached when they came back to talk to him.
“It might have been a kid that gave me a rough time when he was in school, but then he comes back later on and says, ‘Hey, thanks for doing this and taking the time to coach me and be patient with me even though I was immature and acting a certain way at that point in time,’” the coach recalled. “When kids come back and say, ‘Hey coach’ or see me at a restaurant or something, that means a lot and that is awesome.”
Indeed, Ezard found that patience was truly a virtue.
“Through my years of coaching, and I know I’ve got a long ways to go, I’ve learned a lot just about how you have to be patient with kids. All kids are different and some techniques work better for some, but there is no other place I want to be. I want to be around kids and continue coaching,” he added.
There was also another major influence that helped shape Ezard into the coach he is today. When Ezard arrived at Osage, Defensive Coordinator Nathan Dains asked him if he wanted to coach on the defensive side of the ball and Ezard took the opportunity hoping he could emulate his former mentor in Jim “Pappy” Pirch who coached Camdenton linemen from 1973 to 2005.
“I thought, ‘Man if I could coach like that guy one day, that would be perfect.’ Right now, I am at a great program at a great school and coaching the line just like I want to like him,” Ezard noted. “I’m also coaching with Coach (Charlie) Gordon who was another one of ‘Pappy’s Hogs’ so we are having a lot of fun doing what one of our old coaches taught us to do. A lot of things that were taught in that program we are instilling here.”
Ezard hopes those lessons can one day help his team reach the very top like he had the privilege of enjoying and the Indians have come close reaching the state semifinals in 2011. Another part of the job he enjoys is telling current players about the great Osage players who have gone before them like 2012 graduate Alex Burger who played on that semifinal team or 2015 graduate Brad Russell who helped the Indians win a district championship in 2014.
According to Ezard, both players were not very big, but they certainly played big on the gridiron.
“Alex was a 170-pound outside linebacker and pound-for-pound was one of the best football players I’ve ever met and Brad was a 170-pound nose guard I think had 18 tackles in our district title game and was an All-State First Team nose guard,” the coach recalled. “It shows them that you don’t have to be the biggest kid to be successful and you see their eyes light up and they realize that it is possible and they can do it if they want.”
Time will soon tell if those kids choose to buy in. Ultimately, the goal will always obviously be winning a state title.
“It is just such an awesome ride and fun experience that is so rewarding. Every single kid that plays high school football should be able to feel that experience of winning a state title,” Ezard stated. “Every kid deserves that when they are out there sweating during two-a-days at camp and it is something I hope I can bring to kids one day. I hope I can get them to that level.”