Football in Bolens’ plans post-South

The Bolens’ run at Parkersburg South will soon come to a close, but both Jon and Tyler expect to be back on a football field in the not-so-distant future,

That’s now former South head football coach Jon Bolen and his high-school senior son Tyler, Patriot quarterback and basketball player, a starting 6-2 guard.

In Jon’s six years leading the South grid program. the Patriots went 33-31, making it into the Class AAA playoffs three times, but not this past season although finishing at 6-4.

In 2011, the Patriots were 7-5, winning a playoff game for the first time since they captured the state championship in 2003.

Bolen coached a number of places in the Mid-Ohio Valley over the last 14 years, with head coaching stops at Belpre and then at Warren before landing the job at South for the 2007 season.

”That first year, we faced a killer schedule,” said Jon, as his initial South squad went winless at 0-10. But the next year, the Patriots made the playoffs in posting an 8-3 mark.

From Sistersville originally, Jon spent 11 years in Florida coaching high school football before returning to the Mid-Ohio Valley.

When I did the preview story on one of Jon’s Belpre teams for our annual Pigskin Preview is when I first saw Tyler – at his dad’s side at football practice at age 4 or 5. Their bond so fascinated me that I did a feature story on the two of them and their close relationship.

”Remember when I first met you, Tyler was a little rugrat,” said Jon. ”Now look at him, about 6-3 and 190 pounds.”

Although now 60, Jon wants to continue coaching football. ”I’m pretty healthy; I had a complete physical recently and feel great,” he said.

And he’s ”about 99.9 percent sure” he will be heading back to the Sunshine State for his next coaching job.

In fact, just last month, he talked with a high school in Orlando and another in St. Augustine about their football head coaching positions

”But you never know, I could end up taking a job anywhere,” said Jon. ”I don’t have to go anywhere, so it’s nice. And Tyler is going to be in college anyway.”

Various college football programs are interested in Tyler, including WVU, said his dad, as ”a preferred walk-on” after starting at QB for three years at South. ”He had a pretty good senior season,” said Jon, passing for 1,442 yards with 10 touchdown tosses.

Plus, a couple FCS schools are ”looking at him,” said Jon, ”and then, of course, the (West Virginia) conference schools.”

”One thing about Tyler,” said Jon. ”He’s awfully smart about football. He amazes me with his knowledge of the game. I think he’d be a fantastic coach.”

Jon felt he was ”pretty lucky” to end up at South, and ”coaching your son is pretty rewarding. But I know it was tough on him sometimes, because I never gave the kid a break. On the field, he was just one of the 11 guys out there – not the son of the head coach. Honestly, I was on him just as tough or tougher than anybody else.”

Jon admitted, though, that ”not many know how hard it is to be a coach’s son. But Tyler really liked it at South; it was great for him. I remember like it was yesterday when he first started on varsity his sophomore year, but the time goes by so fast.”

And when Bolen stated, ”If I could’ve asked God for what kind of son I wanted, I couldn’t have asked for a better one than Tyler,” he began choking up and getting teary-eyed.

For Tyler, playing for his dad at South was ”a lot of fun; we had a lot of great memories together.

”Growing up, you kind of imagine you might have a chance of playing for him someday, but it was a great experience to be able to finally get to play for him, because I never really thought that we’d both be here at South.”

Of course, once Tyler was the quarterback at Edison Middle School and Jon was the head coach at South, the next step of a father-son football combo at PSHS was inevitable.

”He was tough on me sometimes,” said Tyler, ”but it paid off believing in him, because he knows what he’s talking about.”

They both, though, know too what the other is thinking more often than not. To show how well father and son know each other, Tyler related that ”over the last three years, a lot of times, I knew what play my dad was going to call before he sent it in, or I would tell the player running out to tell him to run a certain play because I thought it’d be open, only to find out he was already sending that play in.”

Tyler has ”thought about being a football coach probably someday. I feel like I know a lot about the game – I’ve been around it for my whole life. I feel like I’m a coach out there on the field sometimes – if the players have questions or if I see something, to be able to tell coach.

”It’s been a lot of fun, so I don’t think I want to quit having football in my life.”

Contact Steve Hemmelgarn at