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Cyclone in charge: Walt Alexander excited about new challenge



Walt Alexander has never been afraid to take on a rebuilding project in more than three decades as a high school football coach.

In fact, the former Topeka High coach has made a career of it.

Now, after a year at William Chrisman in Independence, Mo. as an assistant, Alexander is back in Kansas and back in charge, intent on turning around an Ottawa program that produced just three total wins over the last four seasons before Alexander took over this fall.

"I was enjoying Chrisman totally,'' Alexander said Wednesday after Ottawa's practice. "I loved Matt (Perry, the Bears' head coach) and loved a lot of things about it, but I'm closer to home now and when you've done it your way for so long, you just want to keep doing it your way and I really enjoy running my own program.''

FBEjTmoXMAAu1 EFormer Topeka High coach Walt Alexander talks to his Ottawa Cyclones after Wednesday's practice. [Photo by Rick Peterson/TSN]

Alexander is best known for his success at Topeka High, but when he went to High in 2006 he took over a Trojan program that had suffered through 23 losing seasons in 24 years, including 11 straight.

Fourteen years later Alexander retired from High with an 89-50 record, surpassing the combined win total of the Trojans' previous seven coaches.

His .640 winning percentage was the best in school history for the 61-year period (1959-2020) that records were available while Topeka High produced the likes of NFL second-round draft pick Teven Jenkins, three-time All-Big 12 lineman Will Geary and current Minnesota running back Ky Thomas.. 

Now Alexander's focus is on helping to make Ottawa, a Class 4A member of the Frontier League, a consistent contender.

Ottawa is off to a 2-3 start this fall after last Friday's 30-13 win over Bonner Springs, with the Cyclones notching more than a single win for the first season since 2016.

"It's a huge start because of the way we're playing,'' Alexander said. "Baldwin's down right now so when we won that one it didn't feel that good but when we went to Paola and it was 28-20 in the third the players knew they were on the road playing a good ball team and they felt great about themselves. They could feel it coming and it carried into last week when we played Bonner. 

"Bonner has some good kids, and for us to put together the kind of game that we did the other night, eliminating the mistakes and playing it all the way through, they showed so much growth and improvement from Day 1 it's not even funny,''

The Cylones face three tough tests coming up to close out the regular season, but Alexander just wants to see his team continuue to take positive steps the remainder of this season and beyond..

"This may be the most improved team at the beginning of a season that I've had in 31 years, honestly,'' he said. "They've improved that much, they really have.''