Roger VanDeZande is the head coach for the Russellville Indian's new junior varsity football team. VanDeZande was the head coach for the Fayette Falcons for three years. He led the team to an 11-2 season and the Class 1 state quarterfinal where they lost to Westran 35-6.
VanDeZande said that coming to Russellville was a neat opportunity. Russellville was also closer to home for VanDeZande.
"It gave me both a good coaching challenge and a chance to be closer to home," VanDeZande said.
VanDeZande said the primary challenge of coming to a new program is a lot of teaching. He said this is especially true for student athletes who have not played football in an organized capacity before.
"That is the single biggest challenge," VanDeZande said. "Along with that go the other things that surround a high school football program, different kind of traditions, scheduling. We are looking forward to kind of refitting the locker room to make it a varsity locker room. We've got to find a league to play in within the next couple of years. Just a lot of things that go into having a high school football program. You kind of have to start doing them all at once."
A goal for the team heading in to this year is that they want to be able to play well while balancing their style.
"We are not going to try to be fancy but we want to play well offensively," VanDeZande said. "We want to try to be sound defensively and not try to do too many things because we are learning. This season should give us a chance to get some experience and be able to move into a varsity schedule next year."
The team went to a summer camp at Benedictine College in Kansas. The team played against other schools' JV programs, and VanDeZande said it competed well.
"The biggest thing though is the kids that have been regular attendees in our weight room program this summer have made a lot of progress," VanDeZande said. "[They] set a lot of personal records and they are getting faster and stronger."
The team is working on the fundamentals this season.
"Everything from being in the proper stance, learning what all the positions are offensively and defensively and how everything goes together," VanDeZande said. "But blocking and tackling is the first thing we have to learn and become very good at."