Intense: Coach Farrell Shelton


Hayden Davidson

Shelton and senior players look on before the team’s season opener vs. Jefferson City.

The tumultuous crowd of family, friends, the band, the PA announcer and the rest of the fans at a packed KHS football game creates an enjoyable Friday night atmosphere. Through the noise, some spectators can place a certain voice from up in the stands, but it comes from down on the field. Many in the Kirkwood community are familiar with that voice. The voice of Farrell Shelton. 

“Shelton is kind of intense,” Willie Parks, varsity football assistant coach, said. “The old-school aspect of the game of keeping the intensity going [is] probably [his best quality as a coach].”

A team’s players often reflect the actions and mindset of the head coach, and intensity is a major aspect of football. Matthew Connelly, one of four senior captains on the football team, said Shelton’s ability to get players riled up has a positive effect on them and how they respect him as a coach. 

Hayden Davidson

“Yelling has such a bad connotation,” Connelly said. “When you hear Coach Shelton yelling, you know he [cares]. He’s giving his all to the team, and it makes you want to do the same for him.”

After 25 years of teaching and coaching at Eureka High School and 15 years as head coach there, Shelton has been a KHS physical education teacher and coach since his hiring in April 2015. Shelton gained a strong reputation at KHS as a hard worker from his tireless preparation, according to Connelly. 

“[Coach Shelton] puts in hours and hours of film every week,” Connelly said. “[There’s] a sense of security that you know your coach puts in that much preparation, [so] if he’s doing all this [work], the least we could do is give it all we have for him.”

From in-depth film sessions and thorough observations as a coach, Shelton developed a numbers game. He said he compares the outcomes of football games to a math equation, in that certain aspects added together equal winning or losing. He boiled his philosophy down to a few key points. 

“There is not one stat that can determine [success] in football at any level more than a turnover ratio,” Shelton said. “In high school [football], probably 85-90 percent of the games are not won, they’re lost. And you’ll find that the great teams don’t really [need to] make a whole lot of [great] plays, but what they do is they don’t make the catastrophic mistake.”

Hayden Davidson

Although much of Shelton and the team’s success comes from extensive planning and preparation, Shelton said coaching is a people-driven profession. He said his goal in coaching football is teaching young men how to be successful in life, and he helps players see what they have learned from playing football beyond their accomplishments on the football field and in the box score. Connelly said Shelton fulfills that goal through the lessons Connelly has learned during his time under him. 

“There are more lessons that he’s taught me off the field than on the field,” Connelly said. “He’s taught me how to hold myself accountable. He’s taught me how to hold myself as a human being, to keep my head high regardless of what happens. If you’re able to do that in real life, you’re going to be a successful person.”

Through a grueling schedule of long summer workouts and strenuous in-season practices, including early practices on Thursday mornings, Shelton has a universal lesson that he tries to convey to his players. Whether he yells it from across the field or doesn’t say it at all, they hear his message:

“The only way that you are successful in whatever you do is to make sure that whatever you’ve done, you can look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘I’ve worked as hard as I could.’”