Adna’s search for a football coach has finally come to a close. Last week, the school finalized its decision to hire Goldendale’s Aaron Cochran as its new football coach heading into spring ball and the 2023 season.
Cochran is a 2010 graduate of Goldendale High School, where he played football and eventually earned an opportunity to play college ball at Whitworth College in Spokane.
In Spokane, Cochran had a four-year playing career as a defensive end, capped by a senior campaign that included 12.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, and 49 total tackles.
He then spent the next couple of years learning as an assistant coach at Whitworth, had stints teaching in Alaska and then back in Spokane on long-term substitute teacher deals, before heading back to Goldendale for a fencing job.
The Timberwolves needed some coaching help, and before long, Cochran became the head coach at his former high school in 2018 — eight years after he graduated.
Goldendale struggled through a few years of a rebuild, but by the end of the 2020-21 COVID-shortened spring season — a 1-4 campaign — Cochran said his team’s culture and mindset began to shift.
“My first couple years you could tell kids were burned out,” Cochran said. “Then we got to COVID and our kids were not ready to be done with one win. They loved playing football. I think if your kids are tough enough to battle through an entire year and want to play football that late, you’ve got a pretty solid football program.”
The T-Wolves went on to win nine games the year after that, earning a state berth before a loss to Forks, and then won eight more games last fall, culminating in a state first-round loss to Raymond-South Bend last November.
Per the WIAA’s website, it’s the first time Goldendale has made back-to-back state trips in program history.
For his efforts during the 9-win 2021 season, Cochran was named his league’s Coach of the Year and SBLive’s statewide 2B Coach of the Year.
Cochran said the opportunity to coach against some of the state’s best leaders and rebuild a dormant Adna football program was appealing when he applied for the job.
“You always want to be competitive as a football coach,” Cochran said. “You always want to be in a spot where your kids can be the best they can be. I think that challenge — competing against the best coaches in the state — is appealing as a competitor. I just want to get better every week and have our kids get better.”
Step one for Cochran and his soon-to-be staff in Adna will be getting the Pirates’ offense back on track after a tough finish to the 2022 campaign. The Pirates produced 13 points in their last four games while trying to chase a state berth, and Adna hasn’t made a state trip since the 2019 season.
But before any of that, Adna’s new coach is keeping his goals — and his future team’s — simple.
“When people watch Adna football I want them to see kids who are tough, execute, are accountable to each other, and motivated to play,” Cochran said. “It’s hard to measure those things, but when you watch them you can see.
“My goal is to have Adna not be tired, enjoying playing football and competing and getting after it all the way till the last whistle blows in November and December.”