ROLLA — Just a scant few coaches get to build a football program from scratch.
Count Shannon Jolley as one of those few.
Jolley is the first head coach of the football program at Missouri's newest school — Capital City High School.
As such, Jolley gets to build the Capital City Cavalier program in his image. And that will be the smash-mouth variety of the wing-T.
It's a situation new for a veteran coach who has spent much of his professional life on the Friday night sidelines.
In 2019, Jolley will have to be content roaming the sidelines on Monday nights, as the Capital City Cavaliers will play only a junior varsity schedule this year.
"So much as challenges, it's the task of navigating all the obstacles that comes with it," said Jolley, who was an assistant coach at Jefferson City High School during the 2018-19 school year and prior to that was head coach at Eldon for 10 seasons, during which he posted a 52-61 varsity record and won three district championships (2012, 2013, 2017). "It is something hard to simulate."
Jolley led his new squad into its first-ever on-field action under the lights against players wearing different helmets Friday during Jamboree competition.
Capital City has just freshmen and sophomores among the 44 players on its roster. They will cut their teeth as a Cavalier in the JV ranks this fall before graduating to the varsity level for 2020.
In Rolla, the Cavaliers saw mostly the younger players from Jamboree foes Rolla, Waynesville and Union.
And Friday, Capital City was on a level playing field with the more experienced squads they faced — they had some good plays and not-so-good plays. Some crisp execution and some blown plays. Just like everyone else. And they got the experience of hitting someone other than themselves in preparation for their JV schedule.
"I thought the kids were extremely nervous coming out," Jolley said of the Jamboree. "Being the first time taking the field for a first-year program; they kind of felt that. But they settled down and played pretty good football the rest of the way.
"What the coaches took away from it was it was the first time the players were against someone else. They adjusted to some things and to the game-setting, which was a big thing for us. It was good to get that behind us."
Jolley said a few of his players are new to the game. However, most of the Cavaliers have played before at various younger levels.
"It's no doubt different," Jolley said. "But it's not as if we're starting football where they've never played football. Our kids are experienced; most all of them participated in middle school or freshman schedules. And our coaches did a good job of bringing in some kids new (to the game). But predominately, the kids have played before."
Jolley will need every practice minute he can get this year to install his wing-T, an intricate, rushing-heavy offensive formation that depends heavily on much misdirection. To make it work, every player must execute properly. And the only way to get it to click is rep after rep after rep in practice.
"The kids are pretty much settled in at this point," he said. "We did have some contact days and competed in a team camp in Branson. It's the wing-T, and we've done some different things with it."