Jake Chick wants to put Plainsmen football back on the map

Apr. 4—A new era of Laramie High football will begin this fall.

The school announced the hiring of Jake Chick as its new head football coach Monday morning, pending the approval from the Albany County School District 1 Board of Trustees.

"(Chick) comes back to LHS with over 10 years of football coaching experience, as well as experience as an educator in the ACSD1 family and Laramie community," LHS activities director Ronald Wagner said in the press release. "Through the interview process, coach Chick exhibited many of the attributes that the three separate committees were searching for in the next head coach.

"We are excited to support coach Chick and see the heights to which he can take Plainsmen football."

LHS finished last season 1-8 under former coach Paul Ronga, who finished his three-year tenure with a 4-24 record.

"Ronga played a lot longer ago," LHS quarterback Fisher Frude said. "Jake is a lot younger and has newer philosophies because the game has changed so much."

The three committees that interviewed candidates included district employees, parents and rising seniors on the team. Throughout the search, LHS knew it wanted someone who represented youth while maintaining a hardworking, blue-collar attitude.

Chick — a Gillette native — will be the eighth LHS coach since John R. Deti resigned in 2003. Chick attended the University of Wyoming, earning a degree in physical education in 2011.

While doing student teaching during his senior year of college, Chick was able to start his coaching journey at Natrona County in Casper. The No. 1 thing he took from his brief time with the Mustangs was their culture.

"They definitely have a culture built from within the weight room," Chick said.

In his 10 years of teaching in the ACSD1 system, Chick has tried to revamp the middle school's weight room in order to bridge the gap going into high school.

"(The weight room) is something I'm obviously super passionate about," Chick said. "I think it lays the foundation for future success, whether you have injuries or otherwise."

Added LHS junior Max Alexander: "We typically come in undersized and with small numbers. When injuries happen, it has really hurt us, but I think the weight room will play a big role in the team's success this season."

Chick is familiar with the Plainsmen's current roster, teaching most of them as a physical education teacher at both Slade Elementary and Laramie Middle School. He feels his work in the community will help him establish a quick connection with the roster.

"He is a quiet guy, but very big on discipline," Alexander said. "That's something this program really needs, and we're looking forward to that."

Chick is a first-time head coach with LHS, but isn't new to the program. He had previous stints as an offensive line coach and was most recently the team's defensive coordinator two years ago.

The type of football Chick has come to love watching mirrors the style of play he coaches. That includes a hard-nosed, gritty and underdog type of team.

"My love for that developed from being one of few Carolina Panther fans," Chick said. "... My brother, (John), is an underdog, as well. A lot of people don't know that he played in the NFL as a Type-1 diabetic.

"He's been the lead person I look up to, and he carries that gritty underdog story. I love people that continue to fight the odds and never say never."

Chick plans to blend old school and new school in his coaching philosophy. He won't do away with the old-fashion X's and O's, but he wants to incorporate the use of analytics and trends into the Plainsmen's program.

"In order to be a good coach, you have to do a little bit of both," Chick said. "I spoke to a lot of the seniors coming back and told them they absolutely have to have an identity to who they are.

"(That means) being able to adapt and adjust to teams you're playing with trends, and play people that step up and do what they need to do. We're returning some good senior leadership, but we're always looking for young guys to make a splash."

Chick believes his background in coaching the offensive line will greatly benefit the run game and overall offensive flow. Frude agreed, mentioning a passion for O-line play has been lacking for several years.

"We have the athletes to compete with anyone within (Class 4A) around our state," Chick said. "As far as the (offensive) line is concerned, I've been a part of this program where, even in losing seasons, we ran the ball effectively with not always the largest numbers.

"Probably our most effective times running the ball have been with smaller linemen and tons of misdirection. I want our quarterback to be a huge part of our run game. Doing things that help our offense with misdirection will allow Max and our other receivers to get open for more opportunities."

Added Frude: "I'm excited to evolve our scheme. Having a big emphasis on the offensive line will lead to more team success."

Chick doesn't have anyone penciled into a spot on the depth chart yet. Instead, he wants to use the summer to allow players to compete and earn their spot.

"I want to breed competitors," Chick said. "That means all positions are open until we play our first game."

As far as his coaching staff goes, Chick said there are still conversations to be had with administrators at LHS. He would like to retain anyone who has a passion for growing the program, but also feels he has made his own connections around the state.

"I've worked in the district and have a lot of friends I respect and would love to get them back in here," Chick said.

Chick understands the Laramie High community has been starving for a competitive football team since the Deti dynasty. LHS has had 23 consecutive losing seasons.

He wanted the job because he holds a larger vision for Plainsmen football than what he has seen on the field. He feels he can make the proper changes to put Laramie back on the map in 4A.

"One of the questions I was asked when interviewed was, 'How do you plan to compete with bigger schools or a superior opponent?'" Chick said. "I'm going to give these kids my best efforts week in and week out. We're going to develop competitors in every facet of what we do, and change the culture working on toughness and heart.

"The X's and O's come as we develop the program further, but our kids will fight to the end and know exactly what I expect each week."

Added Alexander: "It's important to have a likable guy (as head coach) and someone that you can get behind. He's got a lot of experience and knowledge, and it's easy to get behind someone like that."

Austin Edmonds covers Laramie High, University of Wyoming and community athletics for WyoSports. He can be reached at Follow him on X at @_austinedmonds.