By RICK PETERSON
Ryan Kelly confirmed Monday night that he has stepped down as Topeka West's head football coach to accept a position on Craig Schurig's staff at Washburn University.
"It happened really fast,'' Kelly told TopSport.news. "The past year or so it's been in my head and in my heart to look to possibly get back into college football. There's a lot about being a head high school coach that I do enjoy, but I just felt that this might be the right fit.''
Kelly, a former Topeka West star, has served as the Chargers' head coach for five seasons after previously coaching at Benedictine, his college alma mater.
"I happened to talk to Craig Schurig and there was an opportunity to come on staff in a capacity that fit really well for me in accordance to my schedule and the fact that I'll still be teaching in (USD) 501,'' Kelly said. "This was a role that has some flexibility and it just seems to fit right now.
"If I'm going to get back into the college game, knowing how this profession works, I know that it's going to happen in this type of capacity.''
Kelly is hoping to continue teaching at Topeka West and help out any way he can with the Chargers' student-athletes and the West program.
"I plan to be at Topeka West, which I'm excited about,'' he said. "I remain very hopeful that I get to stay at Topeka West and I know that I can still be a crutch for the kids, I can still be a crutch for the program in the time that I am there during the day, especially in the early weeks of the fall semester when things really get going. I plan to be any help I can.''
Kelly said his role at WU initially will be to assist Ichabod assistant Dane Simoneau with the offensive line, but he said he's up for anything Washburn needs him to do.
"Whatever position coach Schurig needs me to fill, that will be my assignment,'' Kelly said.
Kelly said he regrets the timing of the move, but said it was something he felt he needed to take advantage of.
"Trust me, this was not an easy deal at all,'' Kelly said. "The timing is terrible, and I'm sorrowful for that. At the same time, there comes a time where you have to do what's best for you and your wife and your family and this just seems to be the right time and the right fit.''
Kelly, whose Chargers were 3-6 last fall, said he felt the Topeka West program has made progress over the past several seasons.
"We did some good things at Topeka West,'' he said. "I think we've improved it. Is it where we want it to be? No, but in the last five years we've been able to improve the program in a lot of areas that might now show up on the scoreboard necessarily.''
Now Kelly is eager to get started in his new role with Washburn, which is coming off a 9-3 season and a berth in the NCAA Division II playoffs.
"One thing I've always respected about coach Schurig is he does tend to really keep it in the family,'' Kelly said. "And even though I'm not a Washburn alum I'm really appreciative of the opportunity because he knows me from being a Topeka kid, I was recruited by Washburn back in the day, I'm very familiar with their staff and it's an opportunity I'm really excited about.''