Rolla High graduate in his first head coaching role.

Rolla High School graduate Derick Heflin has reached his dream of being a high school football head coach.

Heflin, who has been an assistant coach at Waynesville High the past three seasons, has accepted the head coaching position at Washington High School.

His hire was approved by the Washington Board of Education during its March 23 meeting.

He replaces Zach Schneider, who accepted an assistant football coaching position at Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, Tenn. In the classroom Heflin will serve as a secondary special education instructor.

Heflin has a solid coaching resume.

He played for one Missouri Football Coaches Association Hall-of-Fame coach at Rolla High - Gary Miles - and has served as an assistant under three others - Rick Vernon and Brad Drehle at Waynesville and former Salem head coach Bill Schuchardt.

“It’s a great opportunity for me at a great school,” Heflin said of his hiring at Washington. “I’m really excited to get there and get going.

“I had interviewed at a couple of other schools this offseason and thought I’d start at maybe a Class 3 school or Class 4 school. Then this came open. I think working in Waynesville with Coach Drehle and Coach Vernon helped a lot, as well as working for Coach Schuchardt. Those are all Hall of Fame coaches who played in state championship games or won state championships. I think that helped a lot.”

Prior to going to Waynesville Heflin, age 30, served as an assistant at Houston and Salem high schools in the South-Central Association.

He was the Waynesville assistant head coach in 2015 under Drehle and served as offensive coordinator in 2014 for Vernon.

A 2004 RHS graduate, Heflin was a two-way starter (linebacker, offensive line) for the Bulldogs, playing under head coaches Miles and Scott Stallcup. He later played linebacker at Westminster College in Fulton.

As a high school player for Rolla, Heflin played against Washington as a sophomore.

Heflin will have some talent to work with for Washington, which finished 6-4 last season.

“We return a lot of skill position kids,” he said. “They used two quarterbacks last year and both return. We return most of the wide receivers but did lose a 1,000-yard running back. We return the entire back-7 on defense. We lost some offensive and defensive linemen.”

Heflin has been a part of successful offenses in both the option and the spread attacks.

He plans to take some from both philosophies with the Washington Blue Jays.

“We’ll run a spread option, a lot like we did at Waynesville two years ago,” Heflin said. “And we’ll take some stuff we did under Coach Drehle last season. Really, our running game will be what we did at Salem with the quarterback in the shotgun. It’s basically Coach Schuchardt’s offense.

“Defensively we’ll be a 4-2-5, 4-4 defense. Last year they struggled defensively. They were super up-tempo on offense last year and that put a lot of pressure on the defense.”

A longtime member of the Four Rivers Conference, the Washington Blue Jays have been a member of the Gateway Athletic Conference North Division the past several seasons.

A Class 5 football program, Washington will compete in District 3 in 2016-17, along with Ft. Zumwalt North, Ft. Zumwalt South, Holt and Timberland.

OC Change                                                                                                   Things are changing in Rolla High’s league, the Ozark Conference (OC).

Over the weekend Joplin High School made official what has long been anticipated - the Eagles are leaving the Ozark Conference to join the Central Ozarks Conference (COC), effective in the 2018-19 school year.

Rumors of that move have been ongoing the past several years, as Joplin has not been happy with some of the long league road trips, including to Rolla, West Plains, Waynesville, Camdenton and Lebanon.

Several of Joplin’s new COC rivals will be located much closer, including Webb City, Carthage and Carl Junction. Now Joplin becomes the largest school in the COC’s large-school division.

Earlier in the month the COC announced that Hollister, in its small-school division, would be leaving the league.

Carl Junction will be the newest COC team along with Joplin, bringing that two-division league to 17 schools.

The move leaves the OC with nine schools.

There has been talk of adding a fifth Springfield school - Central - to the conference to replace Joplin. However, nothing has come of that yet.

Not including Joplin, current OC members are Rolla, Waynesville, Lebanon, Camdenton, West Plains, Springfield Kickapoo, Springfield Glendale, Springfield Parkview and Springfield Hillcrest.