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NEWCOMERSTOWN -- A hometown boy will be taking over the position of head football coach at Newcomerstown High next season, with Dirk Gadd being tabbed to guide the Trojans' program at a recent Newcomerstown Exempted Village Schools board meeting.
Gadd is a 1998 graduate of NHS where he played both football and basketball during his prep career. Gadd then attended Muskingum College and played football for four years under Jeff Heacock, graduating in 2003.
"I just feel like this community has offered me so much growing up here," Gadd explained. "This is my chance to give back and pass on some of the many valuable lessons I learned here that have carried me through my life. I'm home now and I feel very honored to have this opportunity."
Gadd currently teaches third grade in the New Philadelphia City Schools, a position he has held for the last 13 years. Gadd has served the last two seasons as a volunteer coach for former head coach Josh Lahmers, who stepped down after leading the Trojans the last three years.
With this being his first varsity head coaching position, Gadd knows there will be plenty of on-the-job training, but he is ready for the challenge.
"It will be a brand new and I know I have a lot to learn for sure," Gadd added. "But the administration has been great and its nice to work with such great people like Athletic Director Mark Wolff. We have a great relationship with me once playing for him in school and that gives me that feeling of family. I know if I have a problem I can go to him with it and he will there to help me out, that sort of puts me at ease already."
Gadd played under Coach Jeff Cook during his playing days with the Trojans and wants to return the program to those winning days.
"I want to bring back some of the traditions that Coach Cook started here," Gadd offered. "I have great respect for him. We had a lot of success under him and he taught us some great lessons about working hard and respect. I'm hoping to have the same type of impact Coach Cook did when he came here."
Gadd feels after serving on the coaching staff for the last two years the transition phase should be smooth this season.
"It's a real bonus that I already know these kids and they know me," Gadd stated. "We have a lot of talented younger kids in the program right now, and we don't have a lot of upper classman but what we do have are quality kids who will provide leadership to our younger group."
"I have high expectations for these kids," Gadd said. "And I know from being around them they will work hard for you. It's my job along with my coaching staff to teach them what it takes to be successful and what hard work is all about."
In recent years, roster numbers have been a problem at NHS, prompting Gadd to call a players meeting to get a gauge of potential numbers for next season.
"We had a meeting with the players and had a good turnout," Gadd explained. "There were a lot of new faces at the meeting which was a good thing. We're hoping to get the kids to buy in to what we are trying to build around here. Just to get that winning culture that used to be here back in place."
As for his coaching philosophy, Gadd prefers a rather simple type of football.
"Smash-mouth football...we are going to run the football," Gadd said. "We want to be the type of team that our opponent knows what we are going to do but still can't stop us when we execute.
"That type of play requires a disciplined, tough football team which is what we want to become," he continued. "If we can learn to do all the little things right, be disciplined and work hard then we will be successful."
That overall approach will also apply to the defensive side of the ball under Gadd.
"We want to be aggressive and fly to the football," Gadd stated. "That is when defense can be really fun and kids really want to play the game."
Gadd is currently still assembling his initial NHS coaching staff, but knows it will be full of former Trojan teammates which is exciting for him.
"That's one of the many great things about coming home," Gadd explained. "It means a lot to get the chance to coach with guys I played with...that means a whole lot to me. They know what it takes to be successful and it will be our goal is push these kids to that level."
Gadd has some specific goals in mind he wants to accomplish during his first season back home leading the Trojans football team.
"I want to create a family feeling within our team," he said. "Give them some leadership skills and give our community something to be proud of both on the football field and off as well."