RUSSELLVILLE — Roger VanDeZande just guided one football team to its winningest season in program history. Now he's ready to help create another football program from scratch.
VanDeZande was announced as the new Russellville High School football coach last Tuesday, after announcing his resignation at Fayette High School following three seasons as head coach of the Falcons.
"It's an exciting thing to be able to build a program that's that young, that has barely started," VanDeZande said.
VanDeZande takes over for David Stuckey, who was named Russellville's first football head coach in January 2018. Stuckey accepted a coordinator position at Cameron High School.
VanDeZande said another reason for taking the Russellville job is it's closer to his home in Ashland.
"That gives me a little less time traveling and a little more time at home with my family," he said.
VanDeZande posted a 25-9 record in three seasons at Fayette. Last fall, he guided the Falcons to an 11-2 record — the most wins in a single season in program history — and Class 1 state quarterfinal appearance. Fayette was co-champion of the Lewis & Clark Conference in addition to winning a district title.
"The biggest thing was seeing the change in the young men that were participating in the program," VanDeZande said of his time in Fayette. "The kids did a great job, they were coachable, they learned and they kept working at it."
Prior to Fayette, VanDeZande spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Harrisburg and was head coach at Southern Boone for five seasons, finishing with a 21-32 record. He guided the Eagles to a district championship in 2010.
VanDeZande said he'll meet with the Russellville football players for the first time Tuesday.
"I'm looking forward to meeting all the kids," he said.
VanDeZande said he will teach strength and conditioning at Russellville, although his other teaching duties have not yet been finalized.
"How (the players) develop in the weight room will dictate how they perform on the field," VanDeZande said. "They need to make a commitment there, and everything else will follow."
VanDeZande said he plans to get right to work with the Indians the week after the school year ends next month.
"I've already got a summer schedule made up for our weight room," he said. "We're going to fit in a team camp in June and start using our contact days that are allowable to start teaching.
"We're go to treat this coming fall like we would any other high school season, although it's going to be a JV schedule."
Russellville began its junior high football program last fall and will begin playing high school football this fall, with a varsity squad playing a JV schedule.
The Indians will begin playing a varsity football schedule in the 2020 season.