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Ohio high school football practices begin

08/01/2017, 12:02am EDT

New coaches look to make their mark across area

Start players run sprints during the school’s first practice. The Spartans will kick off their 2017 high school football season against Clyde at home on Friday, Aug. 25. THE BLADE

The first day of practice for the 2017 Ohio high school football season was held at schools around the state on Monday.

Michigan opens practice next Monday, and both states can begin their regular seasons on Thursday, Aug. 24. Most teams in Ohio and Michigan open play on Aug. 25.

Waite could not wait to get started, kicking things off at 12:01 a.m. Monday, with the Indians’ version of Midnight Madness under the lights at historic Mollenkopf Stadium under new head coach Kirk Heidelberg. Indians players then camped out at Waite’s field house.

IN PICTURES: Prep practices kick off

Previous Waite coach Dan Chipka, who has taken the head coaching post at St. Francis de Sales, also chose to begin under lights, scheduling the Knights’ first official practice for 8 p.m. Monday at the University of Toledo’s Glass Bowl, where St. Francis plays its home games.

Heidelberg — a former college assistant and professional coach in Europe who also was a high school in Indiana — returns to his roots in Toledo after playing high school football at Woodward in the mid 1970s.

He and Chipka, who did a solid job rebuilding the program at Waite, are just two of several new head coaches in the area this season.

Joining Heidelberg in the City League are former Rogers and Ohio State lineman Corey Pargo, who has succeeded Tyson Harder as Start’s head coach, Terrence Blevins, who replaced Shane Kokensparger at Rogers, and Mark Weaver, who follows Mike Daniels at Scott.

Joining Chipka in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference is Larry McDaniel, a journeyman college assistant who has succeeded longtime coach Doug Pearson at St. John’s Jesuit.

Elsewhere, Craig Rutherford has replaced his father, 35-year year Eastwood head coach Jerry Rutherford, who retired following a 10-2 Northern Buckeye Conference championship season in 2016. The other new head coach in the NBC is Greg Bishop, who follows Brian Cooper at Elmwood.

In the Northwest Ohio Athletic League, highly successful Liberty Center coach Rex Lingruen retired after 32 seasons, and will be succeeded by former player Casey Mohler, a 1997 Liberty Center graduate who served 17 years as a Tigers assistant. 

Also in the NWOAL, former Wauseon player Aaron Schmidt (2000 grad) will replace Paul Amstutz as head coach at Evergreen.

In the Toledo Area Athletic Conference, the two new coaches are Bryan Dudash, who succeeds Craig Meinzer at Cardinal Stritch, and Nathan Massie, who replaces Andy Bentley at Hilltop. Dudash was previously a head coach in the TAAC at Danbury.

Contact Steve Junga at sjunga@theblade.com419-724-6461 or on Twitter @JungaBlade.

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