It’s official: Former NFL star new football coach at Fort Vancouver

Neil Lomax tells Portland Tribune he wants to be a ‘mentor” for Trappers

Former NFL quarterback and Portland State legend Neil Lomax will be the next football coach at Fort Vancouver HIgh School.

Lomax told the Portland Tribune that he will be taking over the program in hopes of becoming a “mentor” and a “father figure.”

Vancouver Public Schools said the hiring became official Wednesday afternoon.

“I care about winning, and we’re going to try to win,” Lomax told Kerry Eggers of the Tribune. “But I see my role at Fort Vancouver as more of a mentor, a father figure. If I can help these student-athletes get college-ready through their academics and we can use football to do that, that’s in my wheelhouse. I want to increase school attendance among our players. I want to improve the kids’ grade-point average.”

Former Portland State standout and NFL quarterback Neil Lomax, shown here at Kiggins Bowl last November, is expected to be named the next football coach at Fort Vancouver High School. Lomax was at Kiggins Bowl last season watching his friend, Christian Swain, coach for Columbia River. If the move becomes official, Lomax will coach the Trappers at Kiggins. Photo by Mike Schultz
Former Portland State standout and NFL quarterback Neil Lomax, shown here at Kiggins Bowl last November, was officially hired Wednesday to become the football coach at Fort Vancouver High School. Lomax was at Kiggins Bowl last season watching his friend, Christian Swain, coach for Columbia River. Photo by Mike Schultz

“Coach Lomax recognizes that building a solid high school football program … requires a strong academic focus toward graduation,” said the school’s athletic director, John Schultz, via press release Wednesday. “He uses 3-dimensional coaching as a strategic tool, focusing on mind, body, and heart.”

Fort Vancouver football has been struggling for years, not winning more than two games in a season since 2007.

Lomax has experience working with a similar program. He was an assistant under Christian Swain at Roosevelt High School in Portland for seven seasons. Swain is now the head coach at Columbia River.

Together, they helped Roosevelt, a program that once made national news for its losing, turn around its fortunes. The Roughriders made it to the postseason six consecutive seasons, including a Portland Interscholastic League title and a run to the state quarterfinals in 2013.

“He’s not in it for the publicity,” Swain told ClarkCountyToday.com Tuesday as word was getting out about Fort’s new coach. “He’s worried about those kids. I know my friend, really really well. Neil is just a fantastic person. He has a great heart.”

Swain said he helped push Lomax toward looking into the coaching vacancy at Fort. Steve Broussard, also a former NFL player, had the position for one season. The Trappers went 0-9 in 2017, and Broussard took a coaching job in California.

Swain said Lomax is ready for his first head coaching job.

“He’s got the road map. He’s going to use the same road map we used at Roosevelt,” Swain said.

Lomax will not try to sell today’s Trappers on his legacy of a college football sensation and professional athlete, Swain noted.

“Neil is going to come in and love those kids. He will work really hard,” Swain said. “He talks about attendance. He talks about grades. He talks about school spirit. He’s going to do things the right way. When people do things the right way, it normally works out pretty good.”

Lomax left Portland State with dozens of NCAA passing records. He was drafted by the then St. Louis Cardinals in the second round of the 1981 NFL draft. He played eight seasons with the franchise, making two Pro Bowls.

Now he is expected to be working in Vancouver.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have one of my best buddies right down the street,” Swain said.

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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