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story.lead_photo.caption Tim Rulo, shown here on the sideline during a Jamboree while at Helias, is excited to be the new head football coach at Russellville. Photo by News Tribune / News Tribune.

Tim Rulo believes the foundation is in place.

Now it's the right time to build the Russellville football program.

"I was super impressed with the vision they have here, what they want," Rulo said last week after he was introduced to the community during an event at the high school. "They understand how important a positive football experience can be for a school and for a community.

"It can get a school year off to a great start."

Rulo, the former head coach at South Callaway and Helias, comes to Russellville after three seasons at Chillicothe. He and his family wanted to return to the area to be closer to family members in St. Louis.

"We enjoyed our time in Chillicothe, it was a great experience in the community, but it was time to get back to Mid-Missouri," Rulo said. "We were five hours away, it was just too much."

But Rulo said he wasn't going to just take any job, it had to be the right fit. Russellville checked all of the boxes.

"You have a community that cares about its school, that cares about its athletics, that wants to see good things happen," he said. "How could you not be attracted to that? How could you not be excited about being here and being a part of that?

"It's important that my vision matches up with the vision of the administration. If we're not pulling the rope in the same direction, it's not going to be successful."

Russellville played its first varsity season last fall.

"We learned pretty fast that it's an exciting atmosphere on Friday nights with a home football game," Russellville activities director Lucas Branson said. "We've got a lot of people who want to see this program grow.

"We believe Tim is a great choice to lead this program."

The Indians were 0-8 under coach Roger VanDeZande, who stepped down after the season.

"He's done a phenomenal job with these kids, he knows what he's doing," Rulo said. "Watching what he has done with the players and with coach (David) Stuckey before him, they had done a lot of good things. They have built a great foundation."

Rulo took over a fledgling program at South Callaway and led the Bulldogs to success, including an appearance in the Class 2 state championship game.

"Do I feel the ingredients are here to be successful? I wouldn't be here if I didn't believe that," he said.

That success at South Callaway was one of the big reasons Russellville is excited to have Rulo.

"His experience and his success, he knows how to build a program," Branson said. "What he did at South Callaway and how he built that program to its success is something that we were looking for."

Rulo said he plans to watch his players in their spring sports as well as going back through films to familiarize himself with what he has to work with starting with summer camps.

"From there, we need to figure out what are realistic goals," he said. "There seems to be a good nucleus of guys here who are excited about playing football, now it's just a matter of getting started and going after it.

"It's going to about getting kids out for football, getting kids excited about playing. Just teaching the game of football."

Rulo will serve as the weightlifting coach at the school as well as teaching a leadership class.

"Those were some auxiliary things that really made this worthwhile," Rulo said.

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