Lakota East hoped to name former NFL quarterback Jon Kitna as its new head football coach

LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Lakota East High School is expected to name former NFL quarterback Jon Kitna as its new head football coach Wednesday afternoon. The school declined to comment until the introductory news conference next week.

Kitna succeeds former Lakota East coach Rick Haynes, who resigned on February 1 after coaching the Thunderhawks for 13 seasons.

Lakota East (3-7, 3-6 Greater Miami Conference in 2022) is scheduled to open this upcoming season in Centerville on Aug. 18 before the home opener against Hamilton on Aug. 25.

Kitna, 50, played in the NFL from 1997 to 2011, including with Seattle, Cincinnati, Detroit and Dallas. He said returning to Liberty Township, where he lived from 2001 to 2005, is a full-circle moment with a strong connection to family and friends in Ohio.

Kitna was the Bengals’ starting quarterback for three seasons during their tenure in Cincinnati from 2001 to 2005. He earned the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award in 2003 and mentored quarterback Carson Palmer, a No. 1 for the Bengals in the 2003 NFL. Draft. The two quarterbacks have remained friends to this day.

Since his retirement from the NFL in 2011, Kitna has extensive coaching experience at the professional and high school levels. He is proud of the connections he has made with student athletes over the years and said the possibilities for success are endless at Lakota East.

Kitna said he wants the experience to be fun for the team and for the Thunderhawks to be an elite team in the state.

“I’m kid-oriented,” Kitna said. “These guys have a four-year window to play high school football and be in high school track. All we’re asking is that they give us everything they’ve got all the time. That’s it.”

Kitna was the high school football coach for the past three seasons at Burleson High School in Burleson, Texas. Burleson, located in the Dallas and Fort Worth area, is a Class 5A program that is the second largest rating in Texas. Kitna led the team to the postseason and helped raise the program’s GPA.

Lakota East will use a pro-style offense with multiple formations that best suit the staff. 2025 quarterback JT Kitna, the youngest son of Jon Kitna, has scholarship offers including Houston, Duke, Texas Tech, North Texas, Baylor, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Texas at San Antonio. Michigan has also expressed significant interest.

“He loves soccer,” Jon Kitna said. “He’s fun to coach. He’s a dual-threat quarterback who can run and throw.”

Jon Kitna said that he plans to implement an aggressive defensive style that goes into football. Kitna also emphasized the importance of special teams throughout a game. Kitna said he is considering options for how the coaching staff will be formed and that it will be completed at the appropriate time.

Prior to Burleson, Kitna served as the quarterbacks coach for the Dallas Cowboys in 2019 when she mentored Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott. The Cowboys star passed for 4,902 yards – second in the NFL – and 30 touchdowns in 2019.

Kitna has also coached high school football in Phoenix, Ariz., (2018) along with Waxahachie, Texas (2015-2017) and his alma mater Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Washington (2012-2014).

Kitna led a big turnaround at Lincoln, where she helped improve the team’s GPA from 1.4 to a 3.2 on her report card. Kitna helped 100% of the senior soccer players graduate and had 35 student-athletes in the National Honor Society during her junior year at the school.

Kitna had a 25-7 record in three seasons in Lincoln, winning back-to-back league titles while leading the team to the Washington State playoff quarterfinals.

In 2015, Kitna was named the head coach of Waxahachie High School, a 5A program located south of Dallas. Kitna led the program to a 20-13 record in three seasons after the team had a combined 5-15 record in the two years prior to his arrival.

Following the 2017 season, Kitna accepted an offer to serve as the head football coach for Brophy High School in Phoenix, where he led the team to the postseason with a 7-4 record. Kitna was also instrumental in helping student-athletes increase her team’s GPA from 2.1 to 2.98 in two years.

Following the 2018 season, Kitna accepted a position to become former NFL head coach Mike Martz’s offensive coordinator for the Alliance Football San Diego Fleet. Before games began that season, Kitna accepted the quarterbacks coach job for Dallas.

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