Mike Bush was a standout football and basketball player at Washington State University. Now he’ll try coaching.
Bush was introduced to players of the Kentwood High School football team on Monday as the next head coach, replacing Rex Norris, who resigned after 11 seasons to become the head of football programming with Seattle-based Serevi Rugby.
“We wanted to go in a little bit different direction and let someone establish themselves and their program and not try to continue Rex’s program,” Kentwood athletic director Jo Anne Daughtry said.
“We want to get this team to the next level and we think Mike can do that.”
It’s Bush’s first head coaching job.
And he’s just the fourth head football in Kentwood’s history. The program has never had a losing season and last year won the 4A South Puget Sound League Northeast title.
Bush has six years of experience as an assistant coach, including the past four as the wide receivers coach at Bothel, which won the 4A state title this past season.
“I don’t want to hire another coach and I think I have eight years left,” Daughtry said. “Dave Lutes had never been a head coach and Rex Norris had never been a head coach. I think people thought we would hire a head coach with some experience. But I don’t think that is necessary. This allows us to put some faith in Mike and for us to establish a new tradition at Kentwood without leaving the old one behind.”
Bush ended his WSU basketball career with 1,052 points – 20th on the Cougars’ all-time scoring list – and he caught 95 passes for 1,658 yards and 16 touchdowns in two seasons for the football team after graduating from Kent-Meridian High School. He earned Pac-10 honorable mention honors in both sports.
Bothell coach Tom Bainter said that Bush helped call plays the past four seasons, being Bainter’s eyes in the booth on gamedays.
“He was as big a part of our passing game as anybody,” Bainter said.
But Bush’s best attribute was his ability to show, not just teach.
Every once in a while, Bainter said that Bush would get out and run the routes he was asking of his players. Bainter said he wouldn’t do it often because it hurt the self-esteeem of his defensive players who couldn’t keep up with the 35-year-old coach.
“He’s certainly an idol that kids look up to and not just because he played at a high level and he went to Washington State,” Bainter said. “But because of what he can still do. ... Every now and then he’d get out there and show you what he means. And when he does, everybody just kind of stops and watches because it was kind of fun.”
It will be an adjustment for Kentwood switching from a defensive-minded coach to an offensive-minded one.
But Daughtry said the biggest point was Bush’s plans beyond Kentwood. She said Bush expressed his interest in one day being a college coach.
“We had a nice long conversation about that because I think Mike had thought that his goal was to be a college coach,” Daughtry said. “I said, ‘You really need to figure this out because we want someone who is in this for the long haul. I think prior to this job, he hadn’t thought he would be a head coach at a high school. He thought he would go straight to the college level. I think that once this opened up, he rethought things and he got excited about it and opened up to it.”
Especially at a program with such a history of success as Kentwood.
“I don’t think Kentwood, at the high school ranks anyway, is a stepping stone to something else,” Daughtry said. “I think our program has a proven track record.
“He said when we introduced him to the team (Monday), ‘I’m here until they fire me.’