Snohomish hires Smalley as Panthers’ football coach

SNOHOMISH — Snohomish High School’s search for a new football coach led all the way to Park City, Utah — and that’s where it ended.

Park City High School head coach Kai Smalley agreed last week to become the head football coach at Snohomish. He replaces Mark Perry, who resigned after 18 seasons.

Smalley is a Northwest native who grew up in Oregon and played college football at the University of Oregon. The 33-year-old will be moving to Washington for the first time, along with his wife and two children, following the completion of the school year at Park City.

Though Smalley is from Oregon, he is not without connections to Snohomish County. He served as an assistant under current Glacier Peak High School football coach Rory Rosenbach at Marist High School in Eugene, Ore. It was Rosenbach who informed Smalley of the opening at Snohomish, Glacier Peak’s crosstown rival.

“The trash talking has already begun,” Rosenbach said with a laugh. “It will be fun. I only got to compete with coach Perry and his staff for one year and that was special just because of the relationship I had with those guys. This will be kind of a different relationship. That was a mentor-mentee relationship. This is more of a colleague and we have known each other since I was finishing college and he was starting college.

“It will be a lot of fun.”

Smalley had a sense of humor about the prospect of competing against his good friend.

“Any chance I can get to go try and lay one on him, I’m good with that,” he said.

When Glacier Peak and Snohomish face off it will be the first time Smalley and Rosenbach, who is godfather to one of Smalley’s children, have met on opposing sidelines — well, sort off.

“It will be unless you count all the times that he tried to run a scout team against my defense and I made him look silly,” Smalley said.

Smalley and his wife drove to Washington from Utah for an interview and stayed with Rosenbach. Smalley was on his way back to Utah when Snohomish officials called to officially offer him the job.

“I accepted about one second later,” he said.

Smalley had resigned his position at Park City to spend more time with his family, but when he found out about the Snohomish job, it was too good to pass up.

“I swore I wasn’t going to apply for any head-coaching jobs,” he said. “And when this offer came up, I looked at my wife and she just kind of smiled and said, ‘Do it.’”

Smalley takes over a Snohomish football team that posted a 2-8 record last fall. He said Perry has been very helpful in assisting him as he begins the transition process.

“I’ve been in constant contact with coach Perry, just picking his brain, finding out how he has done things in the past and finding out how I can come in and help build off of the success that they’ve had,” Smalley said. “Coach Perry has been a remarkable guy to work with. He has made himself available. I was on the phone with him for two and a half hours last Friday talking about some topics and questions I had about coming in.

“I’m very impressed with what he did there. Somebody doesn’t stay a head coach for 18 years for no reason.”

Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at alommers@heraldnet.com.

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