Growing up as the son of a coach, Andrew Titus knew he wanted to one day become a coach.
But Titus never imagined he would be leading a big-school football program at age 22. However, the 2018 graduate of Hauser is the Jennings County Men’s Football Coach.
“Ever since I was a kid, I always told my dad I wanted to be a coach,” Andrew said. “The coaches I had, and my dad being a coach, made me pursue this because I wanted to impact the lives of these kids like I was impacted by sports.”
Titus played football and basketball at Hauser and football at Huntington University. He graduated from Huntington in May with a degree in exercise science and works part-time as a rehabilitation assistant at Athletico Physical Therapy in Greensburg.
When Jennings County needed an assistant men’s football coach for this fall, Andrew’s father Jonathan told him about the opening.
“My dad has told me since he’s been a teacher in Jennings County that they needed a coach,” Andrew said. “So I was willing to go in and coach football since I had the experience of playing in college.”
The direction of the Panthers’ show changed about three weeks ago when head coach Seth Hall abruptly resigned. Andrew Titus took over as head coach.
“They’ve been resilient,” Andrew said. “I know a coach change can’t be easy for high school students mid-season, but they persevered and were very resilient throughout the process, which was easy for me to take on.”
Andrew has a reliable figure by his side. He recruited Jonathan as his assistant coach.
“AD (Cory Stevens) came to me and said, ‘How about you make your dad the assistant since he’s already in the games so he can get paid to be there,’” Andrew said. “I thought it was a good idea. “It’s been fun having Dad on the sidelines. Sometimes he works with the goalkeepers, and I work with the other kids, so that takes a load off my back. It was nice to have you here.”
Jonathan Titus, a native of Hope, was part of the original group that started playing football in Columbus when the sport came to town. He coached Andrew at the youth level in both football and basketball.
“We’ve had it since he was in elementary school,” Jonathan said. “He thinks I know the game. I think I know the game.”
Jonathan spent time as a women’s and men’s basketball coach and assistant baseball coach at Southwestern (Shelby). He is in his 31st year of teaching, including his 18th year in Jennings County.
Jonathan said the principles of coaching basketball and football are not that different.
“Children are children,” Jonathan said. “Like I said (Andrew), you have to be positive and encouraging. If you can figure out what triggers a kid… some types you have to lean on them, some kids you have to pat them on the back over and over again, but if you find out what they respond to, I don’t think it matters what the sport is. . From my time coaching basketball and coaching baseball, some kids will respond to different things. I told him when he started, they have to know you care before they care what you know.”
Andrew got into a difficult situation in Jennings. The Panthers are 1-10 after Thursday’s 8-0 loss to Columbus East.
But he sees light at the end of the tunnel.
“They started working a lot harder,” Andrew said. “Throughout the whole season they have been improving, and that’s what I can ask of a young team. My seniors, the four captains, have been great at trying to lead these guys, trying to help me as a first-time coach. These kids are great and they work hard for me, so that’s all I can ask for.”
Andrew, who helped Hauser win a basketball title as a junior in 2017, hopes to coach some basketball as well at some point.
“Basketball coach is at an end,” Andrew said. “Maybe I’ll bring the old man here to come out of retirement for basketball too.”