ONA — Eddie Smolder and Luke Salmons have been teammates in Little League, middle school and college, so they figured why not add high school to the list.
The two former Marshall University football standouts will work together on the football staff at Cabell Midland, where Salmons is head coach. Smolder, a successful former head coach at Sissonville and Ripley, will join the Knights as an assistant.
“Luke and I have known each other since we were little and I thought, why not,” Smolder said. “It’s a great time to do it. We’ve talked about it for 15 years.”
Smolder and Salmons played Little League baseball and middle school football together in Ripley. In high school, Smolder continued at Ripley, while Salmons played at Ravenswood. Both were all-staters who went on to Marshall. Smolder played there from 1999 through 2002, Salmons from 2000 through 2003.
“I’ve been asking him for a long time,” Salmons said, with a laugh. “Anytime you can get a good coach who’s a good friend, someone you trust, that’s good. We’ve been in a lot of situations together and share the same values. Eddie’s a good coach and a good addition to our staff.”
Smolder and Salmons said their experiences with the Thundering Herd have helped shape them as coaches.
“Our time at Marshall together was a great experience,” Smolder said. “We were very fortunate to play for coach (Bobby) Pruett and with the caliber of athletes we did. We absorbed a lot of information we’ve both used in coaching our teams.”
Salmons said Pruett’s influence was huge.
“Coach Pruett was really big on relationships, on treating people right,” Salmons said. “He was competitive and wanted to win and people measure coaches that way, but he knew it was more than that. A lot of coaching is character, what we want our players to be.”
Smolder joins a team that went 13-1 and finished runner-up to Martinsburg in Class AAA last season. He said he doesn’t have a specific positional assignment, but will coach any place he’s needed. Salmons said Smolder will see time with the tight ends, linebackers, offensive line and “like all our coaches, wherever we need him.”
“I’m not a guy who has a big ego or anything,” Smolder said. “I just want to help my friend and his program reach their goals.”
Smolder went 24-19 at Sissonville, leading the Indians to the Class AA playoffs twice, including to the first home game in school history. He went 25-27 at Ripley and coached the Vikings to a 10-2 record and the quarterfinals of the Class AAA playoffs in 2018.
“The last five years at Ripley I had a good time,” Smolder said. “It was a good experience. I got to coach a lot of good young men and teach life lessons, not just football. I just decided to reevaluate after the season. I talked with my family and prayed about it and God led me to take a break.”
Smolder is married to the former Brooke Bailey, granddaughter of legendary Winfield football coach Leon McCoy. The Smolders have two children.
When Salmons came calling, Smolder prayed again and discussed the opportunity with his family. He was led to coach again, but as an assistant.
Smolder said he looks forward to working with one of the state’s more-powerful programs.
“It’s a great program with really tough kids,” Smolder said of Cabell Midland. “I’m excited about working with the kids. They’re very skilled and good players.”