WEST LAFAYETTE -- Ridgewood High didn't have to look far when searching for a new head boys' varsity basketball coach with the appointment of RHS veteran coach Jamie McCrea to the position recently.

McCrea, a graduate of Ridgewood, has been a vital part of the strong Generals' football program for the past 19 years serving as offensive coordinator for the past 16 years.

While a lot of McCrea's coaching at RHS has been on the football field, he has also served some time in the gym on the basketball side having coached freshman boys for four seasons and two seasons as junior varsity coach under former coach Travis Simmons.

McCrea, a special-education teacher at Ridgewood Middle School school, will replace Alan Keesee who guided the Generals to a 10-11 record last season. Coming back from that team will be a pair of senior leaders in Ryan Lowe and Seth Bergeron, who McCrea says will fill vital leadership roles with his first Orange and Black hardwood team.

"We don't have a lot of experience coming back next year," McCrea explained, "but the two seniors I do have in Ryan and Seth will play key roles for us in helping to mentor our younger kids as well as providing us with some valuable experience out on the floor."

"We do have a real solid freshman class coming in with a lot of potential," McCrea continued, "and we have some talent in the junior and sophomore classes as well. I hope to generate some excitement in the program and get those numbers up a bit."

In assuming his first varsity head coaching position, McCrea made a difficult decision to give up his coaching duties on the gridiron for the Generals.

"It's a new challenge and something I was ready for," said McCrea. "It was really a tough decision to give up coaching football, but it's a new challenge and I'm excited about taking it on."

McCrea has already started his program with currently holding camps for players in the younger age groups as well as assembling his coaching staff for next season.

RHS head football coach John Slusser, who McCrea has worked with for the past 19 years with the football team, will serve as junior varsity coach, while Simmons will return to the Generals' bench as varsity assistant.

"Both John and Travis are really good friends of mine," McCrea said. "John and I had a lot of success together on the football team and John and Travis have enjoyed great success on the baseball field. We really feel we can bring that winning attitude onto the basketball floor as well together."

"We all already know how to work with each other well," he added. "That will really help the transition period for the kids, with all of us being on the same page already."

Filling coaching roles at the junior high level on McCrea's staff will be Lester McCurdy at the eighth grade level and Troy Dolick with the seventh grade squad.