FRANKLIN FURNACE, Ohio — Chad Coffman, quite frankly, knows all about coaching small-school high school football.
He will tackle his latest small school, but big challenge, starting this season at Green.
That’s because Coffman, most recently an assistant coach at Symmes Valley, was hired last week by the Green Local Board of Education as its next head football coach, replacing Ted Newsome, who stepped aside after six years.
Coffman spent Wednesday and Thursday meeting with the Green High School administration, and prior to Thursday’s announcement by the Ohio High School Athletic Association that it was lifting its mandatory dead period effective on Tuesday, was going over contingency plans as the summer season should be picking up steam starting on June 1.
But now, with the removal of the no-contact period, Coffman is eager to meet his new players — as he said several have reached out to him over the past three days.
Of course, as a two-season Symmes Valley assistant to longtime coach Rusty Webb, he got to see the Bobcats on film and in the flesh. Both the Vikings and Bobcats are members of the Southern Ohio Conference Division I and are run-oriented clubs in a run-heavy league.
“I’m excited about it and it will be a good challenge for me,” Coffman said. “I’ve been at Symmes Valley, so we get Green up close. I’ve seen them quite a bit from film and in-person. But being a small school, they deal with numbers all the time and some years they graduate a big group of seniors. It goes in cycles with small schools like this. It’s always an advantage for those programs that have large numbers. But if you can get a good group out, you will be competitive.”
Coffman said he likes what he sees at Green.
“It’s a great opportunity, there are some good younger classes that everybody is pretty excited about, and the community has some new things coming its way too,” he said.
Coffman was referencing the fact that Green recently passed a school levy at the ballot box, which means a new high school is coming — complete with new athletic facilities including a football stadium and track.
“With the new school and stadium to be built, that’s going to generate a lot of excitement. Green has a great community,” he said.
But, because largely due to low numbers and often times injuries, the Bobcats haven’t always produced in terms of wins and losses. In fact, only the past two seasons since the 2005 and 2006 campaigns has Green gone back-to-back years with at least a .500 record.
Only one year after being forced to cancel their regular-season finale against Oak Hill due to a lack of healthy players, the Bobcats turned things around in 2018 and went 8-2 in the regular season while advancing to the state playoffs for the first time since 1990.
“Numbers are going to be important,” Coffman said. “Green had their numbers up and stayed healthy a couple of years ago when they were 8-2 and made the playoffs. When you only have 23 or 24 kids at the most to start with, and then you get even one or two key injuries, it gets really difficult. You are playing a lot of young kids to begin with, then you have to move two or three around (to different positions) either early or mid-season. And with the (coronavirus) pandemic closing schools in March, nobody got to go around the halls trying to get more kids to come out (for football). So it’s going to be a big challenge. Numbers at a small school are a big deal, especially in our first year like this.”
Aside from one year in Texas and another in North Carolina, Coffman has coached football in the Buckeye State, primarily at smaller schools.
He is a 1994 graduate of Fort Frye, where he played for his father Ralph, who was a teacher and coach in that district for 37 years.
Coffman’s first connections to Green were actually when the Bobcats and Cadets scrimmaged in the early 1990s.
He coached at Caldwell, a rival for Fort Frye, from 2005 thru 2008 as the Redskins captured their first league championship in 13 years, while Coffman claimed East District Coach of the Year honors.
He accepted an assistant’s position at Columbus South for the next three years, before being hired as Ashland Crestview’s head coach and leading the Cougars for five years (26-26), including their best season in school history in 2011. Crestview went a perfect 10-0 in the regular season and advanced to the regional semifinals.
He then returned to southeastern Ohio in 2015 as South Point’s head coach.
Coffman’s philosophies, albeit personnel plays the obvious role, are to run the football while playing a 3-4 base defense.
“There’s different formations and concepts to run the football, and except Eastern throwing it some, the SOC I is a running league,” Coffman said. “Teams spread out only to run. Green really ran the ball effective two years ago. We want to establish the run and be successful at it, but based on numbers and who you have, you still have to be able to adapt.”