Seaman names former Perry-Lecompton DC Jared Swafford as next football coach
TOPEKA, Kan. – Grew up there. Graduated high school from there in 2002. Cut his coaching teeth there for the past 12 years, serving as an assistant football coach since 2009 and head boys basketball coach the past seven years.
So for Swafford to leave “home” it was going to take something pretty special. And that’s what he feels he’s found at Seaman.
On Monday, Swafford was approved by the USD 345 school board to become the Vikings’ next head football coach. Swafford will fill the void left when Glenn O’Neil resigned in early April to take the head coaching job at Dodge City.
“It’s always going be difficult to leave some place that’s been a big part of your life for so long and you will always struggle with change,” Swafford said. “But through the research I did and people I talked to, I felt like I was going to find another home. If I didn’t have that feeling, it would have been the right decision to stay here at Perry.
“I love the Perry community and all the things they’ve done for me over the years. I feel like this is a similar feel. This is one of those opportunities I needed to try and get and see if I can go be a part of another great community. I’m excited to take this chance and risk and I’m glad they decided to take a chance on me. I’m ready to go and put our stamp on this thing.”
Seaman posted a 7-2 record last season and was 26-22 in five years under O’Neil. The Vikings were the No. 1 seed in the Class 5A east standings for last year’s playoffs, but were upset in the second round by Blue Valley Southwest.
The defensive coordinator at Perry-Lecompton for much of his tenure, Swafford helped lead the program to back-to-back runner-up finishes in Class 3A. The Kaws reached the championship game in 2019 and 2020, losing to Andale each time.
Having played for Perry-Lecompton coach Mike Paramore as a senior and then coached with Paramore the last 12 seasons, Swafford credits Paramore as being his mentor and putting him a position to some day lead a program as a head coach.
Their bond tight, Swafford said he’ll continue to draw upon Paramore now that he’s achieved that goal.
“Coach Paramore was an incredible coach and has done a great job here at Perry,” Swafford said. “He took me in and gave me a chance and I’ll forever be grateful for that. Within that, he started to give me more and more responsibilities, being the DC for most of my tenure here, and then taking on some of the special teams responsibilities as well. He’s become my best friend. I really have enjoyed getting to work with him and that will be a tough part of this, leaving him.
“From the beginning, we’re constantly bouncing ideas off one another and constantly talking. I’ve always picked his brain — it’s just what we’ve always done and I’ll still lean on him as a mentor. If I didn’t do that, I’d be a fool.”
Swafford admitted that there was temptation to stay at Perry and someday potentially replace Paramore as head coach at his alma mater. But at the same time, he felt now was the time to test his abilities as a head coach and Seaman fit all the things he was looking for.
“It would have been difficult, but of course, I would have jumped at that opportunity if it was the right situation and they felt I was the right fit,” Swafford said of staying at Perry. “Following him would have been difficult just as following Coach O’Neil is going to be difficult as well at Seaman. It’s going to be a challenge either way. I’m excited to take that challenge head on and I’m going to do what I can to make (Paramore) proud as well.”
Though this will be Swafford’s first head football coaching gig, he felt his experience as Perry’s head boys basketball coach for the past seven years has prepared him well. Taking over a program that had endured seven straight losing seasons, Swafford turned things around.
The Kaws went 93-63 in his tenure, including a 13-8 record last season. Perry twice reached the state tournament, taking third in Class 3A in 2019.
“We came in with my fellow coaches to what was struggling at the time and we had our struggles early on,” he said. “But the experience of building a program that you feel like wasn’t headed in the direction it should and the grind of putting your own expectations and developing a culture — I feel like those things will definitely help me. They’re two different entities as far as sports go, but coaching is coaching and it’s about building relationships with kids. The things we were able to accomplish here can carry over and I feel like it’s going to work hand in hand.”
While the jump from a Class 3A program to a Class 5A program might seem like a big leap, not much will really change from a competition standpoint. As tough as every game is in the Centennial League, Swafford’s already experienced those situations in the Big Seven League in which Perry was a member.
In addition to Perry’s two straight championship game appearances, Sabetha won two straight 3A state titles in 2017 and 2018, Nemaha Central was the Class 2A champion in 2019 and Holton has been a perennial title contender with its last title coming in 2012.
Furthermore, Perry saw Centennial League competition first-hand, facing Hayden four times in the last two years, going 3-1 against the Wildcats.
“At our level, the Big Seven is perennially been a power, having teams that make runs year after year after year,” Swafford said. “Fortunately the last few years, we’ve made it all the way to the title game. But there’s been Sabetha’s run, Holton is always there and you’re playing those teams every week. The quality of football is still there at that level. And having played Hayden the past two years, we have had success against them and they play in the Centennial League. I think it will be the same feel as far as the high level of competition and the battles you have every single Friday night.”