Kavis Reed named head coach of Edmonton Eskimos

The Edmonton Eskimos have found a replacement for Richie Hall. The CFL club will name Kavis Reed as its new head coach at a press conference this afternoon, a source told The Canadian Press.

Kavis Reed

Kavis Reed

EDMONTON — Kavis Reed is returning to Edmonton.

The former Eskimos defensive back was named the CFL club’s new head coach on Friday.

He replaces Richie Hall, who was fired after the Eskimos missed the playoffs following a 7-11 season.

Reed comes to Edmonton from Winnipeg, where he served as the defensive co-ordinator last season. He has a history with Eskimos general manager Eric Tillman, having previously worked with him in Saskatchewan and Ottawa.

Reed was an Eskimos defensive back from 1995 to ’99, recording 205 defensive tackles and 20 interceptions for 481 yards in his CFL career.

“This is a special day for our organization as we welcome an Eskimo back home,” Tillman said in a news release. “Kavis is a bright young man who loves this city and our franchise. I know he has terrific motivational skills, and from a football perspective his coaching experience on offence, defence and special teams will be enormously beneficial as he takes this next step.”

A veteran of nine seasons as an assistant with five teams, Reed led a Bombers defensive unit that finished the 2010 season first in the league for allowing fewest net passing yards (4,580) and second for fewest yards net offence (6,203).

“Head coaches need to see the game from a big picture perspective, and I believe Kavis’ diverse coaching background will serve him well as he embraces this exciting opportunity,” said Tillman. “In a highly competitive division, I know we will draw from his energy, passion and total commitment as we pursue the goal of returning Edmonton football to the highest levels of success.”

The Eskimos dropped nine of their first 11 games this season but then won five of six to put themselves in a position to qualify for the playoffs. But the club lost its regular-season finale 31-23 to Saskatchewan to finish two points behind B.C. for the third and final West Division playoff spot.

The slow start cost general manager Danny Maciocia his job, clearing the way for Tillman’s hiring in September.

Hall was embraced by fans and players alike for his ready grin and relentless optimism, even as the team slipped into its early season funk.

The players said they loved playing for him, but then would run out of the tunnel and hit the gridiron flat and dispirited, often digging a hole in the first quarter they couldn’t crawl out of.

On offence, only the Toronto Argonauts were worse than Edmonton. The Eskimos averaged just over 21 points a game and scored 31 touchdowns, second worst in both categories.

The defence, however, was worse. Edmonton allowed the most TDs (48), the most yards per game (388.2) and the most points per game (30.3).

The Eskimos have missed the playoffs in three of the last five seasons, after making the post-season for 34 consecutive campaigns dating back to 1972.