Auburn Riverside grad Chris Paulson named coach at Kentlake | Football

After more than a month of speculation, Chris Paulson was announced on Wednesday afternoon as the new head football coach at Kentlake High.

Paulson, 28, spent the last two years at Mount Rainier. In two years with the Rams, Paulson posted an 8-11 overall record. The year before Paulson arrived at MR, the Rams posted a 1-9 overall record.

“We kind of got things going in the right direction over there,” said Paulson, who lives in Kent. “The program was kind of down before I got there. My first day of spring ball, we had 26 kids out. This past fall we had 78.”

Paulson takes over for Mike Shepard, who spent the last four seasons at the helm of the Kentlake program. Shepard was asked to step down from his coaching duties in December. In four years as the Kentlake coach, Shepard compiled a 14-26 overall record.

Kentlake has posted consecutive 4-6 records, including 4-4 marks in the South Puget Sound League North Division. The Falcons missed the playoffs in each of the last two years by one game and did not advance to the postseason during Shepard’s tenure.

Though Paulson is coming from Mount Rainier, he knows plenty about Kentlake and the SPSL North. Paulson is a 2000 graduate of Auburn Riverside High, where he starred at linebacker. After graduating from high school, he played three years at Washington State University, where he was a walk-on. The oldest of three boys, Paulson’s youngest brother, David, is currently a tight end at the University of Oregon.

The opening at Kentlake proved to be the ideal fit, Paulson said.

“This is the one I wanted,” said Paulson, whose father-in-law is Auburn football coach Gordon Elliott. “There was the Kent-Meridian job and the Auburn Mountainview job, but this was the only one I applied for. I actually live out in Kent and feel like this is my neighborhood and where I want to spend my time. It just seemed like the best situation to have a quick turnaround.”

Paulson will be taking over a program that has not qualified for the postseason since 2003, when the Falcons advanced to state and lost in the opening round to Lincoln, 30-6.

He will become the third head football coach since the school opened in 1997.

Paulson met with the team for the first time Wednesday night.

“These kids are hungry. I think they just need direction,” said Paulson, who will teach social studies at the school. “It doesn’t have the feel of a long rebuilding process. It feels like they just need a spark.”