Jimmy Tucker, the new football coach at Grain Valley High School, chuckled when he heard the question.

Jimmy Tucker, the new football coach at Grain Valley High School, chuckled when he heard the question.

After meeting with his new football players in the common area of the high school last Thursday, the Bowling Green High School coach was asked if anyone had said, “That’s not the way Coach Rovello did it.”

Tucker simply said, “Not yet. Now, that doesn’t mean I won’t hear it – and it doesn’t mean someone hasn’t already said it, just not to my face. But I promise everyone at Grain Valley High School, I won’t tell them that what they did is bad, if they won’t tell me what we’re going to be doing is bad.”

Tucker takes over for Forrest Rovello, who groomed and developed the program into one of Eastern Jackson County’s strongest over the past 18 years.
Outgoing Grain Valley activities director Jeff Tebbenkamp, who is retiring like Rovello, believes the Eagles won’t skip a beat under Tucker’s guidance.

“As you can imagine, with a program like this, we had several wonderful applicants – from the high school and collegiate ranks – and Coach Tucker just stood out from the rest,” Tebbenkamp said. “He is a wonderful, wonderful coach and an even better individual. I think once the fans get to know Coach Tucker, they’re going to understand why we hired him. It was just a no-brainer.”

Tucker took over a Bowling Green program in 2005 that had not been to the playoffs since 1991 and in three years had the team in postseason action.
He was 46-24 in six seasons at the Class 3 school.

“Coach Tucker’s reputation is impeccable,” Tebbenkamp added. “In addition to his on-field success, he has initiated football clinics for moms and little league coaches.

“He founded the school’s first Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization and also conducts leadership training for his team leaders.”

The past three seasons at Bowling Green, Tucker led the team to postseason action, including a state runner-up finish in 2009 and a semifinal appearance last fall.

Tucker went over his expectations with the Eagles Thursday, outlining a series of do’s and don’ts before the start of summer camp the next two weeks.

“Our camps are next Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon,” Tucker said, “and the following Monday through Wednesday from 3 to 5 p.m.”

When asked if they were mandatory, he grinned again.

“No, you can’t have mandatory camps in the summer,” the veteran coach said, “but if someone is there working hard, and you’re not, well – guess who’s going to have the edge once the season starts?”

Enough said.

Tucker will be coaching alongside a familiar face as his Bowling Green defensive coordinator, Chris Barr, will come to Grain Valley as an assistant.

“Chris will concentrate on the defensive side of the ball, and that will allow me to work more with the offense,” Tucker said. “But as a head coach, I’ll be overseeing all aspects of the team.”

Barr will be an in-school suspension supervisor at Grain Valley Middle School.

“We’re going to run a basic 4-3 defense and a spread offense, but I have to take a look at our quarterbacks to really determine what we’re going to do offensively,” he said, referring to senior Jeremy Maynard, who missed much of last season with an injury, and junior Dominick Macoubrie, who threw for 298 yards in a 67-28 homecoming win over Odessa.

Tucker said he has not been able to spend as much time in Grain Valley as he would like because of the 31⁄2-hour drive between his new school and Bowling Green.

“I’m looking as forward to next week, and I hope the boys are,” Tucker said. “I can’t wait to get started. I know Coach Rovello did a great job with this program, and I’ve been impressed with everyone I’ve met and everything I’ve seen here in Grain Valley.”