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Whitworth a happy homecoming for new Pirates offensive coordinator Matt Troxel

By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

Having coached football for more than a decade, Matt Troxel has grown accustomed to packing up and moving.

Still, a four-month stint in San Antonio – as an assistant coach in the Alliance of American Football at the start of 2019 – made for an awfully short and unexpected turnaround for him.

“The league went down right in the middle of a Tuesday practice,” Troxel said, recalling when Moose Johnston, general manager of the San Antonio Commanders, told the team the league was shutting down in early April .

“My wife (Katie) is from Newman Lake, so we came back here because we didn’t know what to do and waited to see what was gonna happen,” Troxel said.

Two years later, Troxel is back in coaching – and this time he didn’t have to do any packing.

Last week, Division III Whitworth announced Troxel as its new offensive coordinator. He replaces Ian Kolste, who is now an offensive assistant at Southern Utah.

“Once I got to know coach (Rod) Sandberg, and got to see the vision of what he’s done and where the program’s at, I was pretty blown away,” Troxel said. “And it really worked out that it’s the first time I was standing in my garage and I (realized) I don’t have to pack up any boxes. I can coach where I want to live.”

Since graduating from Lake City High School, where he played for Van Troxel, his father, Matt Troxel has played and coached across the Northwest. He helped Montana win four Big Sky championships from 2004 to 2007 as a receiver and returner. In 2009, he began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Idaho.

From 2011 to 2017, he served as an assistant coach at Idaho State, eventually as offensive coordinator in 2016 and in 2017, when the Bengals’ offense was second only to Eastern Washington in total yards among Big Sky teams.

Troxel went to Oregon State the following season as an offensive quality control analyst before heading to San Antonio to be the Commanders’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

But when that league folded , Troxel was left flat-footed.

“Spring is an awful time to be an unemployed football coach,” he said.

Eventually, he began working for Vertical Raise, a company that helps youth programs with fundraising. But he is excited to be back in coaching and to do so in familiar territory.

Successful as the Pirates have been, Troxel will be the program’s third offensive coordinator in as many seasons.

The Pirates won all four of their winter contests, two each against Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran in February and March.

During their last full season in the fall of 2019 they finished 6-3, and their offense ranked third in yards per game in the Northwest Conference.

“I don’t think it’ll be much different,” Troxel said of the offense, compared to how previous coordinators Alan Stanfield and Kolste ran the last two seasons. “More importantly, the (players have) gotta know what they’re doing and feel comfortable in the system.”

Having coached at various levels of football, Troxel said he doesn’t see a big difference as far as his role as a coach.

The players in the AAF may have been cut off NFL rosters, he said, but they’re no different than the players he coached at Idaho State, or Lake City High players he helped coach last summer.

“Kids are kids,” he said. “I like to coach because I enjoy developing kids and getting to know them. People think the higher you go, you gotta make a ton of adjustments. Not at all.

“I think it’s a great situation (at Whitworth). Coach Sandberg’s done such a good job with the program. For me, it’s an unbelievable setup.”

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