In addition to statewide conference realignment, computerized seeding, and the changes yet to be determined by the coronavirus pandemic, several area schools will have new head football coaches for the upcoming 2020 high school football season. Here's a look at some of the new coaches in the area.
In the new Big 8 Conference, there will be remarkable stability in the head coaching ranks. None of the eight teams will have a change at the top this year. Last year, there were two: Ken DuBose at Beloit Memorial and Jason Pertzborn at Middleton. In Pertzborn's case, he went from longtime assistant to co-head coach to now head coach, and retains former head coach Tim Simon on his staff. Middleton finished 8-3 last year and 7-2 in the Big 8, good for a tie for second with Verona. Meanwhile, DuBose and the Purple Knights won their opener, but finished in a three-way tie for 8th place at 1-8 last year.
Badger Large coaches will already have their work cut out for them, as the league mixes in both Janesville schools to a group that includes a mix of teams from both the old Badger North and Badger South. However, the conference will also have a couple of new head coaches in its ranks.
First up is DeForest, the Division 3 state football champions in 2019. Former Norskies coach Mike Minick told WTSO in the week leading up to their winner-take-all Badger North showdown with Waunakee in Week 9 that it would be his final season. Enter Aaron Mack, the Madison East product who was the athletic director at Wisconsin Dells before taking the DeForest job, who will take charge of a program looking to defend its gold trophy, but without many of the contributors from a season ago. DeForest will open up the season against East in a non-conference game.
Another new head coach in the league will be Brock Linde, who will serve as the interim head football coach for Beaver Dam for the 2020 season. Linde, a Beaver Dam alum, was the offensive coordinator for most of the last five seasons, and takes over for former UW-Eau Claire lineman Steve Kuenzi, who had coached at Beaver Dam for several years.
Only one Badger Large coach will be in his second year in 2020: Rodney Wedig at Milton, who in one year got the Red Hawks to the top of the Badger South after five tough seasons trying to restart a moribund Beloit Memorial program. Wedig previously coached at Big Foot, where he won a state title.
In the Badger Small, there has been a good amount of turnover the past few seasons. Only Monona Grove and Baraboo haven't had a change at the top in the past three years.
New coaches include Stoughton's Jason Becker, who was the associate head coach of the Vikings the past two years. Becker will take over for Dan Prahl, who built the Stoughton program to its greatest success in its history the past several years.
Reedsburg will have co-head coaches this year, Quinn Hobbs and Mike Riberich, who will fill the role vacated by longtime coach Brian Pottinger. And, Fort Atkinson will work under new head coach Nick Nelson, who takes over for Brady Grayvold, who left to coach college football at St. Thomas in Minnesota.
Two Badger Small coaches will be in their second year with their respective programs: Clay Iverson at Sauk Prairie, who guided the Eagles back to the playoffs and a hard-fought loss to Stoughton in Level 1, and will have a new turf field to operate on in 2020 and beyond; and Shane Haak at Portage, who is also the school's head wrestling coach. Bret St. Arnauld at Mount Horeb/Barneveld enters his third year at the school.
Two longtime head coaches with Hall of Fame credentials stepped down this offseason. Mike Gregory left the Edgerton football head coaching position, opening the door for longtime assistant Russ Lietz to step in. Ron Grovesteen, who has the field named after him at Evansville, also resigned after a Hall of Fame career, and Evansville alum and former UW-Whitewater standout Garth Coats takes over at Evansville after serving as offensive coordinator.
The only second-year coach in the Rock Valley will be Jason Bleck at Whitewater, who as an alum of the school.
Looking at schools in Dane County, Belleville will have a new head coach this year: Michael Nolden, a Wildcats alum who played college football at Upper Iowa University. In the greater south-central Wisconsin area, there are a number of new head coaches for the upcoming season:
- Desie Breadon at Black Hawk/Warren, two-time defending state champions (replaces Cory Milz)
- Boone Tollefson at Fennimore, taking over for Jonah Roth
- Tyler Huber at Lake Mills, who replaces Dan Ferkovich. Ferkovich is the new head coach at West Bend West
- Larry Green at Pecatonica/Argyle, in place of Blake Bukowski
- Michael Janke at Wisconsin Dells, now in for Scott Flood
Boscobel, Fall River/Rio, Iowa-Grant, Kickapoo-LaFarge, North Crawford, Prairie du Chien, Riverdale, Southwestern, Waterloo, and Wisconsin Heights all made head coaching changes in 2019.
If you want to read more about the new football conferences in southern Wisconsin, click here.