After being an assistant for the past 12 years, Chase Kistler is taking over as head coach of the Powell Panthers football team.

Kistler served as the QBs and DBs coach under Jim Stringer, Chanler Buck, and Aaron Papich. It was in the middle of the 2018 season that under Coach Papich, that Kistler transitioned into Powell’s offensive coordinator. He was in that role full-time last year.

Now he’s trading his head coaching role from basketball to football. Why? Kistler said his background has more of a focus on the gridiron.

“I played college football. Football was always kind of my main sport that I really enjoyed playing and coaching.”

Sometimes it’s a matter of timing, and Kistler believes this was the right opportunity for him.

“This year when it came open, I decided that it’s more of my passion, and I think I have little bit more expertise in the football-area, that I decided it was time for a change.”

He feels his time as the head boys’ basketball coach (7 seasons) has served him well in preparation for this new role. Also, having played at Black Hills State, being an assistant under three different head coaches, and having called plays last year provided him the background to help the Panthers become more successful.

Powell is coming off a 7-5 mark last year and an appearance in the Class 3A state championship game.

Kistler described 2019 as a very emotional year and a roller coaster ride.

“Towards the middle of that season, we were really beat up, especially on the offensive and defensive line. We had a lot of guys that were injured for one, two, three, even four weeks they were out, and we knew we were kind of resting them to get that push late in the season because we knew we needed them for the end of the season. When we got them back, we started rolling, clicking. That’s really what we saw a lot, at times, when we were healthy we were rolling pretty good.”

He knows they return a lot of players on the line and at skill positions, including quarterback, as well as the defensive secondary.

“Really a key to success in Wyoming football, you’ve got to have a line in front of you.”

With so many players back, the Panthers will be viewed as one of the top teams in their division, and Kistler doesn’t mind high expectations.

“Pressures always good, I think, when it comes to sports. You kind of want to have that. That means your program, if you want to say, has a bullseye on it, and that’s always a good thing. That means you’re having success.”

He added that if you welcome it, you’ve got to put in the work to attain the success you desire.

Kistler sees an offense and defense similar to last year but with a few changes because of personnel lost to graduation.

“I wouldn’t say there’s going to be a lot of changes other than trying to get more balance (on offense). Last year we were run-oriented. I don’t want to say I’m going to throw the ball all over the field, but I definitely want to try to get more balance.”

After installing the offense last year and seeing improvement as the season went along, they can now look to expand their passing game.

Kistler is excited about his new position.

“(I’ve) been a part of the Panther football team for a lot of years. (Like you said,) I’ve seen a lot of highs and lows, and I think this could be a highlight season if we can get everyone to come out and play. That, and with all the stuff going on over the summer, how we train ‘em and get ‘em in shape for the season, I’m very excited.”

Powell returns All-State lineman Geordan Weimer, plus quarterback Landon Lengfelder, receivers Jesse Trotter and Braily Gann, running back Kadden Abraham, linebackers Adrian Geller and Toran Graham, and cornerback Riley Bennett.

The Panthers are scheduled to open the 2020 season with a home game against Riverton on Aug. 28.

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