Head Coach Randy Robbins working with wide receivers. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Head Coach Randy Robbins working with wide receivers. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Kent-Meridian football’s new coach looks to the future

Randy Robbins takes over the Royals as they turn the page on the gridiron.

The book on Kent-Meridian High School football over the past several years has been a brutal read. But this year, under a new author, the Royals have been turned into a must-read novel.

Kent-Meridian has a new football head coach going into the 2023 season: Randy Robbins. It is his first year as a head coach, and he has a daunting challenge in front of him. But Robbins is ready and willing to accept what the year has to offer.

Robbins is relatively new to coaching, starting at Tahoma High School as an assistant for multiple seasons before joining the Royals coaching staff last year. He worked with the wide receivers in his first year and “joyfully” with the C-team.

“I got to be a head coach pretty fast. I don’t think I know everything,” he said. “I got a lot to learn. I’m trying to give these kids the language they deserve, give them the experience they deserve.”

“He’s set the foundation for us, he’s put us to work and where we need to be to prepare ourselves,” said senior Demetruis Carter.

The chance to help these kids get an opportunity is special for Robbins, but to also learn from them is something he looks forward to. “It’s an honor to be able to do that… I’m excited,” he said.

His players reciprocate the same energy.

“He comes from a winning background, and he’s done a good job on making us feel confident going into our first game,” said senior Quarterback Jayden Saelee.

The focus this year is on positivity, on and off the field.

“(Camp has been) tremendous. I was reminded right before I started that I don’t care what they learned as far as football goes. We had to change the way we treat and talk to each other,” Robbins said.

The results of implementing a new culture has surpassed Robbins’ expectations.

“To witness (players) holding each other accountable and give them standards. These guys have exceeded my expectations. It’s been really special to see,” he said.

His starting quarterback takes a lot of pride in creating that positive team chemistry.

“I take a lot of pride because you made what this culture is. You’re shifting to something else instead of just having the same old repeated culture,” Saelee said.

Changing a culture in the first year as a coach of a new program is one thing, but as a first year head coach in general? It takes something even greater, but Robbins is loving the group he has right now.

“I tell these guys I like ‘em. I like them as a team. If we can be consistent and keep growing and find success in the small things, that’s the name of the game,” he said.

The environment is one that players are taking a liking to.

“It’s more professional, it’s like a family,” Carter said.

Being a senior, Carter is focused on passing the torch to the next generation of Royals.

“I try to teach the younger guys. Get them comfortable because when I’m gone, they’re next,” he said.

Being concerned with wins and losses is a ways down the road for Robbins and the Royals. They are more concerned with one day at a time.

“I told them we’ve worked really hard, but we need to define what success looks like without the scoreboard … Did I do my job? Did I give everything? Was I a good teammate? How am I encouraging? … If we do all those things, we’re gonna be all right,” Robbins said.

That focus on positivity has been taken to heart by players, including no negative talk toward teammates.

“(This year we started) no dissing on our teammates during games, instead trying to uplift each other. We didn’t really have a good eye on that because we were always bashing each other. So our confidence was low. Going into this year we learned a lot,” Saelee said.

The Royals opened up with Renton High School, a rivalry that spans decades.

“I have tapes in my office of KM playing Renton in 1967,” Robbins said.

Robbins has nothing but respect for Head Coach Mark Cross and the Redhawks.

“They’ve got good energy, coached well. I’ve been telling my guys as long as you are dialed in and as disciplined as possible, it’ll give yourself the best chance to win,” Robbins said.

Saelee is ready to hit the gridiron on Friday night once again.

“This is the first time in three years that I felt winning again. I won all through middle and elementary school, then I came into high school and it didn’t feel like a winning program. But now we have a new coach with a winning background, great person and great overall mentor…We’ve learned what it takes to win. I’m super excited,” he said.

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