SHELBINA, Mo. -- Adam Gunterman won't deny it. He's a small-town boy at heart.
That made the vacant South Shelby head football coaching position so intriguing.
"That area is very similar to where I grew up," said Gunterman, who is a Pleasant Hill, Ill., product who spent the past eight years teaching and coaching in Palmyra. "I'm from that type of area and I can really relate to those type of kids. And it's a very tradition rich Class 1 program that has a ton of potential."
It's now his job to unearth that potential.
South Shelby announced Wednesday it hired Gunterman to replace Rob Wilt as the Cardinals' head coach. Wilt resigned in January after compiling a 98-63 record in 13 seasons, guiding the Cardinals to five district championships and a Class 1 state runner-up finish in 2011.
Wilt will remain at South Shelby as a teacher and athletic director, but the football program is now in Gunterman's hands.
"I've prepared for this for a long time," said Gunterman, who inherits a team that went 4-7 last fall. "I always knew this was the ultimate goal of where I wanted to be. I'm real excited to get the opportunity South Shelby presented."
A three-sport standout at Pleasant Hill, Gunterman played football at Culver-Stockton College, starting as a defensive lineman and earning the C-SC Most Outstanding Senior Student-Athlete Award in the spring of 2012 before graduating and taking a job at Palmyra.
A junior high social studies teacher, Gunterman coached three sports at Palmyra, but he always had plans to chase a head coaching opportunity when an intriguing one existed.
"I always told myself if the South Shelby job came open that would be a great place to start my career as a head coach," Gunterman said. "I was lucky enough that I interviewed well and got it."
It helped getting solid advice from Palmyra coach Kevin Miles.
"He told me to be myself, go in there and shoot them straight and be who I am," Gunterman said. "You can't go wrong doing that. Of all the things I learned from Kevin, who is a great football coach, the top thing is you have to love your kids and how to motivate your kids.
"They'll play a lot harder for you if they love you than if they hate you. That's a lesson I'll take with me."