The torch has been passed as Eldon offensive coordinator Chad Hult takes over for former Head Coach Shannon Jolley.

The torch has been passed.

After 10 years at Eldon and coming off one of the most successful seasons in program history with a school record 11 wins and run to the state quarterfinals, Shannon Jolley will no longer be the head coach at Eldon after deciding to step down and become the new strength and conditioning and offensive line coach at Jefferson City. As a result, offensive coordinator Chad Hult will be the new man in charge.

It was admittedly not a choice that was made lightly, but one Jolley felt was right for his family.

“It was extremely difficult in one way, but an easy one in another. It gets us closer to home,” Jolley explained. “My wife works and travels with her job so she spends a lot of time north of Jefferson City. It kind of pulls our family back together and as my girls get a little bit older, it makes it a more natural fit for us. We knew the time would come when we would have to maybe centralize our family or make some tough decisions and this just seemed like the right time for us.

“Leaving Eldon was never a goal or something we looked forward to making a decision about, but kind of a necessary move for us to move forward and grow as a family… It is a decision we feel strongly and comfortable about.”

And while it is surely difficult to leave a program that just enjoyed one of its most successful seasons on the field, it is just as difficult for Jolley to leave behind a foundation and support structure that allowed him to grow and flourish as a coach.

“I think it has been very humbling and we’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to experience the things we have over the last 10 years. I know as a coach, it gave me the ability to grow a lot as a professional and personally so we are very thankful for the opportunities we have been given here,” the coach said summarizing his time with the Mustangs. “To be able to work under the leadership I worked under has been phenomenal and one of the highlights of being here for the last 10 years is being able to start my daughter’s education over at the elementary school with Michelle Herbert and her staff. It has been one of the biggest blessings we’ve had.

“We just wanted to thank everybody we’ve come in contact with in the Eldon school district. We’ve had some phenomenal people reach out to us not only as a family, but as a program in football, track and field and even our strength and conditioning program. We could not ask for a better group of people or a support structure than we’ve had while we were here.”

When Jolley took over the program 10 years ago, things did not exactly get off to a smooth start as the team was 1-29 over the first three years. However, the dismal seasons became a thing of the past and things started to turn around as the Mustangs won back-to-back district titles in 2012 and 2013 and another one last year. Since the tough start, Eldon posted just one losing record bringing Jolley’s total to 52-61 at the school.

“Taking a look back when we were 1-29, I thought about this the other day, all the players and families that endured those losing seasons but stayed out,” Jolley remarked. “Maybe one of our biggest accomplishments was creating an environment and culture in those first three years that kept kids out for football. To this day I’m still not sure exactly what it was that kept people around, but there were a lot of loyal people and players back then that stayed the course and continued to be ‘All In.’

“Those are the people I think at the end of this run and my tenure as a coach that should be talked about the most. When you have things going it is by no means easy, but it is a lot easier than it was when we first started,” Jolley continued. “To all those people that continued to play and those parents that continued to support our staff and our direction, those are the ones I would probably like to give the biggest thank you to. I just hope they understand and will always know that they were as big a part of this program as anybody has been.”

And now, the program will be in the hands of someone who led Eldon’s offense to eye-opening numbers in 2017 that featured 5,821 total yards (447.8 yards per game), including 4,963 rushing yards (381.7 yards per game), and practically scored at will with 47.6 points per game respectively. Hult came to Eldon five years ago as a volunteer assistant and there was something about the place that made him stick around. The coach said he could not imagine a better place to be for his first role as a head coach.

“I was really excited about it. That has always been a career aspiration of mine and to reach it here in Eldon is an even bigger prize to me,” Hult stated. “I love the community, I love what Coach Jolley taught me and what (Superintendent) Matt Davis and those guys have done.

“The community support is unbelievable and seeing success, not so great seasons and kind of what we went through last year, the community always comes together and it is a pretty incredible place.”

Jolley is certainly confident that Hult is ready for his new role after seeing the work he has put in over the years.

“I think Chad is very capable obviously. Chad has taken the responsibility for a lot of roles in our program over the last two or three years so he is very capable of taking the program and not missing a beat, or even making improvements where needed,” the coach pointed out. “I think each program has areas of improvement and ways they can get better and I think Chad and his staff will take a look at those things and I think they’ll actually be better in the long run as they move forward.”

While Hult prepares to take over, he will not forget the way Jolley ran the show and all the important lessons he learned from his mentor. Overall, the coach said the expectations should remain high in 2018.

“Most importantly from him was his attention to detail and his passion for the kids. I think that is going to be unmatched and I am going to try my best to uphold what he did there,” Hult remarked.

“Our expectations are going to be really high coming off a year like that. We have to replace some good kids, but we also have a lot of talent coming back so I’m excited to get it going and it is going to be very similar to what we’ve done in the past. Hopefully, the same momentum keeps rolling.”

No matter what takes place this fall, Hult also emphasized how important character was as well.

“I want us to be men of character on and off the field,” he said. “Becoming better men, I hope the football comes along with that, but you are teaching these men to grow up and be better parents, role models and things of the future.”

It won’t be long before the new year officially gets underway as the team gets ready to head to camp in a little over a week. Hult had a simple message for his players.

“We are ready to get going so make sure to come excited, ready to work and build off last year’s success,” he stated.