Experiences help shape life decisions. The same can be said on the gridiron when it comes to coaching.
As Clinton-Massie prepares to play in its third state football championship in the past six years, two key members of the coaching staff rely on their time as head coaches to help shape their current coaching styles.
Offensive line coach Barry Wulf and defensive coordinator Scott Rolf were both head coaches at their previous stops and fall back on those experiences as they help guide the Falcons to another berth in the state championship game.
Wulf is in his fourth season on the Falcons’ sideline, following a fouir-year hiatus from the coaching ranks after serving 16 years as a college coach, including some of that time as the head coach Wilmington College.
Rolf started at CM in 1995 and worked for the Falcons for 11 seasons before taking the head coaching gig at Springfield Northeastern. After a stint at Northeastern, Rolf returned to the defensive coordinator position for Massie.
“It was such a blessing to have this opportunity,” Wulf said about the chance to come aboard the Falcons coaching staff. “After being a college coach for 16 years, just the opportunity to come back and the camaraderie with the kids is amazing. I have known Dan (McSurley) for years with recruiting his kids (at WC) and the whole staff just embraced me from the standpoint of whatever I was able to give at the time. They just made it feel like a home and a lot of that is because of Dan. Just to be back around the game with an opportunity to develop young people and teach them life lessons really was just a gift that I couldn’t put a price tag on. It was just really an honor to be back into something (coaching) that I really care deeply about.”
In this his second stint running the Falcons’ defense, Rolf says he can use his time as a head coach to bring some things to the coaching staff that he couldn’t before.
“The biggest thing, which I don’t think people appreciate, is how hard it is to build and maintain a program. The culture has to be there and that’s one of the things I appreciate about Dan because I know what it takes to battle through,” Rolf said. “After being a head coach, there are little things, for example something as simple as the wind, that I feel like I can help out with.”
Rolf also utilizes Wulf’s head coaching experience to help with ideas on the defense side of the ball.
“The experience that Barry brings from being on the college level is tremendous,” Rolf said. “I can take things and bounce them off him because he has a lot of experience being around football.”
After back-to-back state championship titles in 2012 and 2013, CM’s most recent trek to Canton has come as no surprise to those involved.
“Being around this program, the goal has always been to get to this point,” Wulf said. “The players and the senior leadership on this team have embraced the mindset that this season would be a failure if we weren’t to this point. The seniors have done a tremendous job through the ups and downs of the season. From day one, with the group we had coming back, the experience they bring, this has been where we’ve wanted to be all along. It’s no surprise coming from my perspective.”
Rolf pinpointed a turning point in the season that he said made him realize a trip to the state title game was coming for this year’s squad.
“The seniors on this team have willed their way and expected to win, but for me, I was kind of waiting to see until we got to the Coldwater game because that’s the kind of team you have to come out and beat in order to get to this point,” Rolf said. “When we beat those guys I felt like this team was destined to go to state. That was the statement to me that made me believe we had the team to go all the way.”
With just one more winner-take-all game remaining in the season, preparation will stay the same for an undefeated Steubenville opponent.
“When you get to this point of the season, you don’t radically change what you do,” Wulf said. “We have a successful recipe that has gotten us to this point and it’s just a matter of making sure we have every little detail fine-tuned and we just need to go out and execute.”
Reach Blake Haley via email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BeeLakeH