When Luke Taviano missed out on the head coaching job at Perry two years ago, he was disappointed but persevered, telling himself God had a plan for him and not to get discouraged.
Fast forward two years, the Perry graduate is hired after Herb Lane is killed in an automobile accident and although it is not the most ideal circumstances to get a job he is ready for the challenge.
Taviano not only meets the challenge head on, but he transforms a team that has not had a winning season in 11 years by posting a 6-4 record and then takes the Commodores to their first football postseason appearance.
“Looking back now God had a plan,” Taviano said. “I think this brought some good out of a bad situation and I hope that brings healing to the whole community and Herb’s family. They are great people and he was a great dude.
For his efforts, Taviano was named Northwest Central Conference and All-Northwest District Division VII Coach of the Year.
Taviano, who was an assistant at Perry two years ago, came into Perry with what many consider an old-school approach that many might feel it outdated but it worked for him.
“I knew the players that I had and what they wanted to do and the only way it was going to work was bring in more discipline into the system,” Taviano said.
Taviano adds the coaching staff, made up of individuals who had played college ball at some point, was also instrumental in the development of the team. But even a top notch coaching staff can do only so much and it is up to the players to buy what the coaches are selling.
“It was really all their (the players) decision to do what we were putting in place,” Taviano said. “There is no magic to it or anything to it, the kids did what we asked them to do and them putting the heart in and wanting it. They wanted to make the program a different program.”
Taviano’s love for football began with his family and his parents, John and Debbie Taviano, who were his major influences growing up and continue to be in his life, along with his wife and children.
“My parents were big influences on me and kind of my second parent, Paul Cox, he was my dad’s best friend. He taught me to be the father that I am right now and the man that I am. My wife is the biggest supporter that I have.”
But it is football family that also provided Taviano with the tools and knowledge to become a head coach. From Jason Heinline, who was his offensive line coach and current offensive coordinator to Bryson and Randy Davis to lifting coach Virgil Banks, have all played an important role in his life.
From his high school coaches to his college coaches, Taviano has learned from them and then as assistant coach under Spencerville head coach Chris Sommers and former Spencerville head coach who serves as a Bearcat assistant, John Edinger, have been a guiding factor in his life and were instrumental in him developing into a head coach..
“I live my life based on the good book so Jesus is a huge influence in my life,” Taviano said.
With faith first and family second, football is third on Taviano’s list and he said without the first two none of this year’s success would be possible.
As Taviano reflects on this year he is appreciative of all the attention but is more focused on how this team is the start of a new winning tradition at Perry that will continue into the future.
“It is kind of surreal for me,” Taviano said. “I knew with the potential we had and the coaches we brought together I knew we were going to make a difference in the program but I would have never expected to do what we did and make it to the playoffs.”
While Perry achieved a lot of goals, Taviano added that they left a lot of things on the table and what they want to accomplish like winning the NWCC.
“We do leave a lot of goals unturned with the conference title and winning week 11 not only making it but making it to week 12,” Taviano said. “But it was a pretty special year. I could do without all the personal accolades.”
Reach Jose Nogueas at 567-242-0468 or on twitter at @JoseNogueras1