KINGWOOD, W.Va. — Mark Deep may be new to the Preston High football program, but he is far from an unfamiliar face to the football landscape in the county.
Deep was named the head coach of the Knights, replacing Jonathan Tennant, who coached at PHS for eight years. Tennant resigned immediately after the 2020 season after finishing with a 3-7 mark and missing the postseason.
Preston made the playoffs in 2019 with a 4-6 record, the first time since 2008.
The first thing Deep hopes to do is instill what he pictures a solid foundation to be for the football program and the first step is changing what the players expect.
“In Year 1, we need to change the culture of the program and we need to become more competitive on the field,” he said. “We need to set the foundation this year for future success of the program. We need to change the players’ mindset and they need to believe in themselves and their teammates. We need to instill confidence in our players.”
Deep coached at the middle school level with the Preston Squires and is coming off a 7-1 season where they won the NC7 Conference Championship, the first in program history, against Morgantown. Deep served as the head coach for three seasons and was the defensive coordinator the four seasons prior.
“High school is the next step, chapter and challenge in my life and as a coach. I love coaching the kids. I think I can make a difference in their lives on and off the field,” he said.
Being introduced in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, though, has proven to be a challenge. The Knights were one of the fortunate teams last season to play an entire regular season schedule, but increasing numbers and kids unable to go to school means Deep hasn’t gotten a chance to meet his team in person.
“The offseason is going to be tough during this pandemic, with the players not being in school,” he said. “It affects our strength and conditioning program the most. I honestly don’t know when I am going to be able to address the players in person and start building a relationship with them. I have been communicating with them through social media and group apps, but that’s not the same as being in front of the team. I’m lucky that I have coached a large percent of the players in middle school, so that has helped a great deal.”
During his high school career, Deep played at Connellsville (Pa.) as a sophomore before playing at Chartiers-Houston High, located just outside of Washington, Pa., his final two years.