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King Me: Knights’ new king Hamilton ready for lead program

After six years during his second stint as the Knights’ offensive coordinator, Bryon Hamilton is the first new head football coach for the Shasta College program in 23 years.

Bryon Hamilton takes over the reins as the Shasta College head football coach, replacing Craig Thompson, who will be the defensive coordinator. Hamilton was the offensive coordinator for the Knights the past six seasons. (Photo by Tony Hord, illustration by Aaron Williams)

Former Shasta College quarterback Tim Naylor said there were two places he loves to be during his time with the Knights: Standing behind then-offensive coordinator Bryon Hamilton during practice or on the field during game time.

“I learned a lot of what I do, by standing behind him and watching him coach,” said Naylor, now a varsity assistant coach at Shasta High.

And while it’s obvious that Naylor, a competitor from his high school days and beyond, preferred to be in the game, there was also another reason for wanting to be in the action.

“If I’m out on the field, then he’s not five yards behind me yelling at me for a mistake I made,” Naylor said.

GAME-DAY INTENSITY: Shasta College head coach Bryon Hamilton is known for his meticulous approach and intensity during games. (Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

New Shasta College head football coach Bryon Hamilton is indeed a contrast in opposites.

Outside of the game, the former Foothill head coach, is witty, insightful and affable.

Come practice and game day? Well, all bets are off.

Miss a block, he’ll let you hear about it.

Throw the wrong read,  he’ll let you hear about it.

Miss a tackle,  he’ll let you hear about it.

And chances are the crowd at Shasta College’s Memorial Stadium will hear it, too.

But, Naylor said, Hamilton’s intense nature and penchant for being blunt and brutally honest is borne solely from a desire to see his athletes succeed.

“Whether it was practice or a walk-through, his standards were way up there,” Naylor says. “If you threw a pick in practice he’d jump your butt because if you didn’t learn, you’d do it in the game.”

And if you did it in the game, the guy in the 32nd row of the stadium would also know how you again missed the read.

However, learn from it and succeed and “Hammy,” as he’s known, is usually standing on the numbers waiting to pass out congratulations.

“He’s always the first dude to love us up when we’d score,” Naylor says.

And melting the icy glare with a touchdown pass, Naylor says, made all the time spent watching film, in the weight room and at practice worthwhile.

“He’s a guy you wanted to succeed for,” Naylor said.

Shasta College named Bryon Hamilton, pictured during spring practice, the new head coach in March. (Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

And succeed is what Hamilton plans for the 2019 Knights and beyond. The 50-year-old coach steps into the head coach role in his second stint with the team, replacing longtime leader Craig Thompson, who slides over to the defensive coordinator role.

It’s a move both men feel benefits themselves and the team.

“I’m getting back to part of a game I was missing and it’s been freeing,” Thompson said. “I knew when Bryon stepped in as an assistant six years ago that he’d be the perfect guy to be the head coach in the future.”

Hamilton, for his part, loves having Thompson’s knowledge remain on staff in addition to coaches like Kyle Anderson, Anthony Cavalli, Jim Schuette and Daniel Lewis.

“The move has reinvigorated him and I’m excited for Craig to be shoulder deep in football,” Hamilton said. “My staff as a whole has ties to me or the program and I think their buy-in will allow us to flourish.”

And while Hamilton knows JC football is as much about the wins as it is moving players to four-year universities, he believes the recruits and local talent will allow the Knights to compete.

“Last year, we were good in flashes and that didn’t equate to wins,” he said. “This year? Time will tell.”

But Schuette, who spent time with Hamilton during Foothill’s run of Northern Section titles in the early 2000s, knows that from player to coach, Hamilton will have everyone prepared to give their best.

“He has an expectation and is very clear about it while giving you the tools to meet that expectation,” Schuette said. “He’s a big culture guy. It’s not always about Xs and Os, the wins and losses. Bryon just wants you to be best person you can be.”

Something Naylor and the others know first-hand.

Aaron Williams has been involved in the North State sports scene for nearly two decades. He spent eight years as the Sports Editor for the local newspaper and another four more as the voice of high school football on the radio. In addition to coaching freshman football, Williams is also the public address announcer for the Shasta College football and basketball teams.

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