MIAMI — M.J. Swortwood knows just what the Miami High School football program has been going through.
“I have been in that exact same boat when I was at SBU,” said Swortwood, who has joined Andrew Rice’s staff at Miami High School as receivers coach.
“I think the best record we had was 5-6,” he said. “We were 1-10 and 3-8, then went from 4-6. The last year (moving from the MIAA to the Great Lakes Valley Conference) we went to 10-2 and for the first time, we won the conference and made it to the playoffs for the first time.
“It was just guys having to change that mindset. That is what our big push right now is in Miami.”
While playing in one of the toughest districts in the state, Miami has won only 11 games over the past five seasons, including a 1-9 showing in 2016.
Rice, who had been offensive coordinator and quarterback coach at Bartlesville the previous two seasons, succeeds James Cheatham as MHS head football coach.
Swortwood redshirted his first year at SBU then spent two seasons as a backup quarterback.
A nagging shoulder injury led him to decide his junior season to become a student assistant.
“It wasn’t bad enough where it needed surgery,” Swortwood said. “They said I could do physical therapy for the rest of my life and get shots, then wear on it even more, or just start coaching. That was one of the things I knew I wanted to do in the future.
He was a student assistant his senior year then a grad assistant the past two seasons.
Swortwood likes what he’s seen so far of the Miami program.
“I was looking for a coaching opportunity,” he said. “Coach Rice gave me a call and after talking to him and seeing what his future is for Miami, that’s what really drew me to want to take the job.
“I thought ‘I don’t know about this,’ but after thinking and praying about it and me and my wife talking about it, then talking more to Coach Rice, this is where I am supposed to be.”
During his time at SBU, Swortwood coached safeties, running backs, quarterbacks and receivers.
“I have done a little bit of everything on offense,” he said.
Swortwood graduated from SBU in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education.
“Our guys are fired up and ready for the change,” Swortwood said. “It’s cool it all come together. I am really excited.”