CUBA — For David Wild, it was the logical next step.
“I went to Cuba-Rushford ... I played football for this team, I was the modified head coach, so I just wanted to continue on with it,” the seventh-grade social studies teacher said.
The 29-year-old has taken on the title of varsity football head coach, hoping to build off the success the Rebels had under Chris Fee, who was named an associate principal at the school.
“My coach was actually the (current) athletic director, Chris Cappelletti,” said Wild, a 2008 C-R graduate who was a two-way lineman for the Rebels. “There’s nothing better than a lineman, really. Who doesn’t love to just hit? They’re the heart and soul of the team; they just need to be reminded of that sometimes — how important they are.”
In Fee’s six seasons, Cuba-Rushford went 28-22. The Rebels posted five straight winning campaigns with four Section 5 playoff berths before going 2-7 last fall. They always seemed to have plenty of offensive firepower, led by star playmakers like Carl Holmes, Jake Jones and Trevor Smith.
Wild, meanwhile, led C-R’s modified program since its inception four years ago.
“Chris Fee did a great job in building it to what it is,” Wild said of the varsity program. “I’m hoping to expand on what he did, and the ultimate goal should always be to win a sectional title ... a sectional title then state title. Now will we get there? We’re hoping. But it’s going to take some time. It’s not going to be first year, boom, we’re right there. We’ve got to work for it a little bit.”
Wild said the key to the Rebels’ recent success was “the kids buying in.”
“It doesn’t matter if it’s the regular season or the offseason, kids would be here trying to get better all year round,” he added. “I think that’s a big part of it. That’s my goal — to try and get the kids to buy in during the offseason to have them grow throughout the year.”
This season, Wild expects C-R to return about 13 letterwinners.
“I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but those 13 were all core people from last year,” he said. “We graduated some linemen, so we’ve got to plug in there. ... We have key pieces that are coming back, but we’re going to have a pretty young team as well. It’s going to be a big range of kids with experience and kids without experience that we’re going to have to mesh together.”
The new coach plans to put his own spin on the program, too.
“When it comes to this, I am a very analytics person,” Wild said. “I like to look at all the stats, look at the film, see what happened, and that’s going to be what I do. I’m going to have a reason behind everything I do. The kids may think that I’m crazy but I have a reason behind what I’m doing, and if they ask, I will show them step by step why we are going in this direction.”
(Shawn Campbell, a Times Herald sports writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)