There is turnover in the high school football coaching ranks every year, but when practice for the 2014 season kicks off Aug. 1, there will be more new faces than usual.
A dozen head coaches will begin their first seasons at new schools, some as rookies at running programs.
In the City League, Chris Etts takes over at Rogers and Dan Chipka assumes the helm at Waite. In the Three Rivers Athletic Conference, Derek Kidwell has exited Fremont Ross and returned to guide his alma mater, Fostoria. He will be succeeded at Ross by Craig Yeast.
The lone change in the Northern Lakes League is at Northview, where longtime college assistant coach Doug Downing embarks on his first high school job at Northview.
Along with Kidwell at Fostoria, two other new head coaches are in place in the Northern Buckeye Conference — Paul Patterson at Genoa, and Brian Spicer at Woodmore.
In the Toledo Area Athletic Conference, Greg Neuendorf returns to the Toledo area after two head coaching stints in North Carolina to take the reins at Ottawa Hills.
Three Northwest Ohio Athletic League teams have new head coaches — with the nomadic Jim Kubuske taking over at Delta succeeding another coaching nomad, Mike Vicars, who is now the head coach down the road at Swanton.
The third new NWOAL coach is Joe Kirkendall, who returns to his alma mater at Patrick Henry following the retirement of highly successful Patriots coach Bill Inselmann, who was 200-64 in 23 seasons there.
In Michigan, Joe Ayers begins his first season at Erie Mason.
The elder statesman in this group is Kubuske, 60, who begins his 30th season as a head coach, taking his ninth job at his eighth different school, all in Ohio.
Kubuske began at Gnadenhutten Indian Valley South (1980-81), and also coached at New Lexington (1982-84), to Sheffield Brookside (1985-88 and 1993-97), and New London (1989-92) before moving to northwest Ohio, where he guided Lake (1998-2006), Tiffin Calvert (2009), and Cardinal Stritch (2011-12). When he wasn’t a head coach, Kubuske was an assistant at Perrysburg (2007-08 and 2010) and Genoa (2013).
“All the jobs have been exciting and have been great opportunities for me to work with a bunch of great young men,” Kubuske said. “There’s a great coaching staff at Delta, and I’m excited about that. I get to infuse my enthusiasm and my knowledge with new kids and new people, and glean some information from them. I have a good attitude, and I look forward to it every year.”
On the opposite end of the coaching spectrum is Chipka, 26, who enters his first season as a head coach. After graduating in 2006 from Anthony Wayne, where he played tight end and linebacker, Chipka played four seasons at Bluffton University. The past four years he was an assistant at Bowsher.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity and one that I’m really excited about,” Chipka said. “I’m trying to create some excitement and do things at a high level. We’ve been having voluntary workouts throughout the summer, and the kids have really been receptive to it and attending well. Our numbers are up.”
Etts, a Bedford graduate, had two prior head coaching stints — at Cardinal Stritch (2000-01), and in Michigan at Britton-Deerfield (2002-03). He was an assistant at Bedford (2004-06), and sandwiched two years as a college assistant between two stops as an assistant at Southview (2008-09 and 2012-13).
“I’d like to put a competitive team on the field every time out, and I think the kids have shown a lot of interest and excitement since we started to meet with them a couple weeks ago,” Etts said. “We’re hoping to start a tradition at Rogers where we get back to competing for City League titles and getting to the state playoffs year in and year out.”
Etts’ primary profession is co-owner of four Toledo-area sports-themed eateries.
Downing, whose father coached 43 years in Indiana, has spent 24 years of his own as a college assistant coach, including the past five years at Eastern Michigan following time under head coach Tom Amstutz at the University of Toledo.
After playing for his father in high school, Downing played four year at Purdue University. A resident of Sylvania for several years, Downing works as a sales rep at Sylvania Tam O’Shanter.
Kidwell’s new post represents a prodigal son returning to his home town. While a quarterback at Fostoria, where his father, Dick Kidwell, was the highly successful head coach, he helped the Redmen to a 1989 state runner-up finish, a state-semifinal run in 1990, and a 1991 state championship (all in Division II). He was named Ohio’s Mr. Football as a senior. His father also guided Fostoria to another state title in 1996.
Fostoria has fallen on hard times.
The Redmen were 0-10 in each of the last two seasons, and take a 23-game losing streak into 2014.
“It is different,” Kidwell said of his return. “But we’re excited as a coaching staff. There’s a challenge ahead of us, and we’re going to accept that challenge and work hard and try to put a winning product back on the field and some pride back in the community. We want to give them something to be excited about on Friday nights.”
Yeast comes to Ross with an impressive resume as a player.
After starring as a quarterback and running back at Harrodsburg (Ky.) High School, he then had a Southeastern Conference-record 208 receptions while playing at Kentucky. A fourth-round draft pick, he played in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets before spending five years with Hamilton and Saskatchewan in the Canadian Football League.
He was head coach for one season at Bryan Station (Ky.) before becoming the receivers coach at Tiffin University, and took the Fremont Ross job in March.
Patterson, a former head basketball coach at Central Catholic, was also a football assistant for the Irish. He was on head coach Greg Dempsey’s staff when Central won state championships in 2005 and 2012. He joined Genoa’s staff as an assistant last season, and was the Comets’ head track coach this past spring. This is his first season as a head football coach.
Spicer played his high school football at the storied Massillon Washington program in northeast Ohio. He was his class valedictorian. Woodmore will be his seventh high school head coaching job, following Ohio stops at East Canton (1997-98), Alliance Marlington (1999-2001), Marietta (2002-07), Hillsboro (2009-12), and Williamsport Westfall (2013), and another in Albany, N.Y. (2008).
Neuendorf starred as a quarterback under coach Jim Mayzes at Southview (1996-98), leading the Cougars to their first playoff appearance as a senior. In Southview’s first playoff win that year against Tiffin Columbian, he passed for over 500 yards.
He played at Dennison University of three years before transferring to Ohio State to complete his undergraduate degree and earn a master’s degree.
Neuendorf, whose father Doug was a former head coach at Cardinal Stritch and Bowsher, was an assistant for four years at Hilliard Davidson High School in Ohio.
He was a teacher and head coach for four years at Coxmill (N.C.), and last year he taught and coached at Porter Ridge (N.C.).
“I’ve been here for a few weeks, and what I’ve been impressed with is how hard the kids work,” Neuendorf said. “We’ve had them in the weight room for three weeks now, and they work hard and push themselves. We’ve had 30-35 kids every day really getting after it. We want to get this thing started and going in the right direction.”
Kirkendall has had much success as a high school head coach after playing for Inselmann at Patrick Henry. After graduating from PH in 1995, Kirkendall was a Patriots assistant coach under Inselmann, a stint that included PH’s 2005 Division V state championship.
In his second season at Arcadia (2007) he led the Redskins to their first winning season (6-4) in 15 years. He moved on to Leipsic, posting a 52-16 record over six seasons, a run that included five playoff appearances and Blanchard Valley Conference titles in 2009 and 2011.
Vicars has turned several downtrodden teams into winning programs in his coaching career, including highly successful runs at Delta (1998-2006) and Genoa (2007-11). At Swanton, he inherits a Bulldogs program that has gone 17-83 overall the last 10 seasons.
Ayers, a 1988 graduate of Monroe Jefferson, spent 8½ years in the Marines and 12½ years in the Army national guard before completing his bachelor’s degree at the University of Toledo in 2006. He enters his eighth year as a teacher at Erie Mason.
He served as an Eagles assistant coach for five years, plus two more at Bedford.
“The kids are highly enthusiastic and have been hitting the weights really hard, and we’re looking forward to making changes here,” Ayers said. “This is a building year. We have a good core group of young men that want to make that change, and that’s what we’re calling it this year: ‘A Season of Change.’ ”