MIAMI — Andrew Rice didn’t even need help moving to his new job site: it was just up West Central from Miami High School to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.
Rice is beginning his first season as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Golden Norse after heading up the MHS program in 2017.
“I was really fortunate for the opportunity,” Rice said. “We’ve got a great staff. The dynamics has been unreal. Coach Allen (head coach Zach Allen) essentially has overhauled the entire staff and he’s done it without hardly missing a beat. He was able to bring in some quality guys.”
Rice had replaced James Cheatham as the Wardogs coach.
That wasn’t the first time for a NEO-Miami “swap.”
Cheatham had been Golden Norse offensive coordinator for four seasons before spending the next four as MHS’ head coach.
Also, Chad Davis moved from director of football operations at NEO to MPS athletic director in mid-May.
The Wardogs were 1-9 in Rice’s only season.
Rice previously was offensive coordinator and quarterback coach at Bartlesville.
The Wardogs dropped their first eight games then rolled to a 32-19 win over Vinita in Week 9 for their only win while playing in Oklahoma’s toughest Class 4A district.
During his tenure, Rice oversaw a complete overhaul of the Miami High School weight room and was able to bolster player numbers.
“I love it. It’s been awesome so far,” he said of his new duties at NEO.
The Golden Norsemen wrapped up a mix of workouts and academics Thursday, July 26.
They’ll have a couple weeks off before starting preseason preparation in earnest.
The season opener is Thursday, Aug. 30 at home with Arkansas Baptist.
“This summer there was a huge improvement,” Rice said. “It was nice to see a lot of things we were preaching in the spring when we came back we were able to do a lot of correction and that kind of stuff.
“We had some guys step up. Offensively, we put some things together, so we were pretty pleased with what we got out of the summer.”
This was the first time the incoming freshmen were added to the mix.
“We were able to break them in and figure out what they are about before crunch time,” Rice said. “That was good. We saw a lot of good things out of the freshmen we brought in.”
One of the biggest tasks facing Rice and the offensive staff is finding a successor to record-setting quarterback Wyatt Steigerwald, now at Missouri Western.
There are currently five players in the picture — Clayton Sims, Joshua Shim, Guy Meyers, Ryan Peoples and R.J. Wakely.
“Our three older guys (Sims, Shim and Meyers) have kinda separated themselves from the freshmen just because of their experience,” Rice said. “We have a good crop. They are not selfish and understand the big picture. When you have three guys like that, you have to feel good about it.
“It’s a good situation.”
Peoples, from Norman North, was picked to play in the Oklahoma Coaches Association all-state game in Tulsa, but opted to stick around so he could concentrate on NEO’s summer activities.
He threw for 3,081 yards and 31 touchdowns while completing 61 percent of his passes (178 of 291) for the Timberwolves.
Wakely had 16 touchdowns against only five interceptions in 147 pass attempts. He threw for 1,575 yards.
“They are doing a great job, working their tails off,” Rice said.