Ian Smart felt he had it made at Kuna High.
The 32-year-old former Boise State defensive lineman built the Kavemen into a consistent playoff team and had the full support of the school, community and administration.
But Smart couldn’t overlook the opening with the Timberline football program five minutes from home and where his wife Jenn is the dance coach.
“I live by Lucky Peak, and so just commuting to Kuna, and then having a young daughter that is about to turn 4 years old, the opportunity for me to be a part of her life is something that I couldn’t pass up,” Smart said.
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Timberline announced Smart as its next football coach Wednesday afternoon, replacing Kirk Copeland. Copeland resigned in January after seven seasons with a 26-40 record and led Timberline to three of its four playoff appearances in school history. The Wolves are still searching for their first playoff victory since opening in 1998.
Smart compiled a 17-14 record in three seasons at Kuna and made the playoffs each year, including last fall when the Kavemen moved up to the 5A classification, Idaho’s largest. He led Kuna to its first playoff win since 1998 two years ago.
“Ian may not have been a starter at BSU, but he was an integral part of that program,” Timberline Athletic Director Tol Gropp said. “He brings really good leadership skills, the kids respond to him well and I think he’s going to bring a really good coaching staff with him.”
After finishing his playing career in 2007, Smart started coaching at Bishop Kelly in 2010. The Orange County, Calif., native joined Lee Leslie at Kuna in 2012 and served as an assistant before taking over the Kavemen in 2014.
He inherits a program that went 2-7 last fall after reaching the playoffs three years in a row. But with a 30,000-foot expansion coming to Timberline to make room for a growing student body, Smart said the Wolves have a bright future.
“Being in Southeast Boise and seeing the growth of the community and the investment from the people, it’s right there,” Smart said. “They know it’s right there, and now it’s dialing those things in and getting people to want to come out.”
Timberline will hold an informational meeting with Smart for players, parents and community members at 7 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium at Timberline High.
Kuna Athletic Director Greg Carpenter said in a press release the Kavemen have assembled a search committee to find a new coach.
Smart said Wednesday was an emotional day mixed with goodbyes to his players at Kuna and excitement over the opportunity for his family at Timberline.
“I owe a lot to Kuna,” Smart said. “They took a shot on a kid that really had not much experience and allowed me to implement and create a program that I believed and felt strongly in. They will always have a place in my heart.”