John Blaylock is ready for the next step in his coaching career -- and he's happy to be doing it wearing Kahok purple.
An assistant football coach at Collinsville, Blaylock was named the head coach at a special Unit 10 board meeting Tuesday night. Blaylock replaces Mike Liljegren, who was not rehired after posting a 19-72 record over 10 seasons. Last year, Collinsville was 1-8 overall, including 1-6 in the Southwestern Conference.
"It's been a lot of work to get to this point," Blaylock said. "I've been at it for 25 years, so I'm thrilled. It's an opportunity to come back to my hometown school as a head coach."
Meanwhile, the fate of Collinsville athletics director Chris Kusnerick, meanwhile, remains uncertain. Sources told STLhighschoolsports.com that Kusnerick will not be rehired for the position and will not be offered a teaching job. Repeated efforts to obtain more information through Collinsville High were not successful.
In an email response sent at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, Kusnerick said he is still employed as athletics director and "plan(s) on being here in the future."
Blaylock coached the Collinsville Raiders junior football program for 10 years and has been an assistant at Collinsville for 15 years in two stints. He was on the staff from 1991-98, serving as defensive coordinator for the last two of those years. He returned to the program as a position coach in 2006 and has been defensive coordinator since 2007.
"I was a defensive line coach in '96, so I've been lucky enough to be part of our last three playoff teams," said Blaylock, who was a coordinator in 1998 and 2010.
Blaylock, 45, is a 1985 Collinsville graduate and the owner of a company, Max Mechanical Contractors.
"We take care of heating and cooling systems on really big buildings," Blaylock said. "It's a Missouri company, and I'm blessed that I'm in a position to be able to do this. I control my schedule, and (football) is something that I'm really passionate about."
In high school, Blaylock was the definition of versatility on the football field.
"I joke with the kids that there were only three positions I didn't play: quarterback, tailback and cornerback," Blaylock said. "I ran track for a while and played baseball.
"I got talked into trying wrestling my senior year, and that was a bad idea. You shouldn't do your first year of wrestling on the varsity level as a senior. I got my tail kicked."
Blaylock didn't play football in college.
"I spent a year at SIU Edwardsville, a year at McKendree and a year in tech school and ended up in the military (Army Reserve) for six years, so I bounced around a little," Blaylock said. "My dad (Elliott) was one of the early members of the Collinsville Raiders in the mid-1970s and actually helped lay the bricks to build their building.
"After I graduated (from Collinsville), I was going to school and I had some spare time and he was coaching, and he asked me to come and help them out," Blaylock said. "I tried it and fell in love with it and kept taking more responsibility.
"In 1991, Bob Hollingshead was the coach (at Collinsville), and he had an opening on the freshman level and he gave me an opportunity. John Jackson took over in 1994, and I became a varsity assistant at that point. John left in 1997, and I became a coordinator at that point under Tim Kane."
Blaylock resigned from the Collinsville staff prior to the 1999 season.
"In 2006, I had a conversation with Mike Liljegren that I might be interested in coming back, so I took the defensive backs that year," Blaylock said. "In '07, I became the coordinator again, and we made the playoffs in 2010.
"In 2011, we had a great defense, but 2012 was not a great year. It was kind of rebuilding year for us."
Blaylock looks forward to shaping the Collinsville program around his coaching philosophies.
"We're going to be more of a run-based team, because I think it matches our personnel a lot better," he said. "Without giving away too much, we'll be running something that right now nobody else in our conference is running. We're going to retain the ability to pass, and one of the things that Mike left us was a really solid passing game.
"Our goal is to get the numbers up, so we want to coordinate with our feeder programs, the Raiders and the Junior Kahoks. We want to maximize the number of kids that we get out at the freshman level, and traditionally, Collinsville is lucky to have a dozen kids that have played before.
"This year we had 35 kids come into the freshman program, and we have about the same in seventh and eighth grade. I'm really excited about that -- those are numbers that we've never seen before in this program."
The next order of business for Blaylock is to meet with his players and to assemble a coaching staff.
"We've got to get the kids engaged in the weight room, which is something that has been problematic," Blaylock said. "I've been running the weight room on a voluntary basis since December, and the numbers have been really good.
"Seven-on-seven (camps and tournaments) have to be scheduled for the summer. We started our own seven-on-seven tournament last year with 26 or 28 teams from all over the year, and we want to continue that.
"There's quite a bit to be done. Football is a 12-month thing."
Kusnerick, who replaced Matt Badgley as athletics director in July 2009, spent the previous four years as the Kahoks' boys basketball coach and assistant athletics director.
"It's a personnel matter, but no action was taken," District 10 assistant superintendent Susan Homes said.