FULTON — Brian Hooker always thought he might end up being head varsity football coach, it just took him longer than he originally intended.
The veteran coach will take over the reins at Caston — albeit on an interim basis. Hooker was hired as the Comets' new football coach at Tuesday’s school board meeting.
Hooker takes over for Brady Jones, who resigned from the post after two seasons shortly following the conclusion of the last school year, Caston athletic director Blake Mollenkopf said.
Mollenkopf added that he and Principal Chuck Evans decided that Hooker will coach this season on an interim basis. Hooker will continue teaching middle school health and physical education at Rochester.
“We didn’t have another teaching position open at this time. To open it up in June when you’re supposed to have football workouts, it’s really late in the year to be doing that,” said Mollenkopf, who added that Hooker had already been hired as Caston’s offensive coordinator before Jones resigned as head coach. “We felt like it was a good opportunity to see if [Hooker] would take on the responsibility of getting us through this season as an interim head coach this year and after the season we’ll evaluate where we’re at and see if we want to further with Brian or if we need to go in a different direction.
“We’re excited to have him here. He’s been a great attribute. He’s kept the ball rolling and we haven’t missed a beat in football with our workouts. We’re excited about that.”
Hooker, 57, has 30 years of football coaching experience at the high school and middle school levels. He was the Rochester varsity baseball coach for 15 seasons from 2000-14 and won three Three Rivers Conference and three sectional titles with the Zebras.
He’s had two previous stints with the Caston football program.
“I was the defensive coordinator here believe it or not in ’96 and ’97. Previous to that I was a three-year assistant to Ron Wyatt, he was the head coach back in the day,” Hooker said. “I got into teaching a little bit later in life so to speak, so since that time I’ve been at Rochester. I have split high school and middle school football over my 30 years, maybe about right down the middle. But I enjoyed my previous two stints at Caston, had a lot of fun, had some success for sure and hopefully we can get that ball rolling again.
“This opportunity came up and I think it’s a goldmine here. I think it’s a great situation. I did not hesitate when coach Mollenkopf asked me.”
The Comets have had four straight losing seasons and have won just nine games during that time. They are coming off a 2-8 season after winning just one game the year before.
“Hopefully my experience and coaching staff’s experience pays off and we can rise the program up a little,” Hooker said. “I know as far as wins and losses the last handful of years hasn’t been good, hopefully we can get the numbers up.”
Caston’s state-of-the-art weight room that was finished last summer should help.
“It is unbelievable,” Hooker said. “There’s some small colleges that wished they had that 4,000 square foot weight room in there with all the gadgets. They are lacking for nothing.”
Hooker added he hopes to be around for the long haul as he continues the rebuild of the program.
“I told Blake I’m in this for as long as you guys allow me and as long as I can do the job,” he said. “I’m sure I’m the oldest coach in the conference. There may be a record set here, oldest guy to get his first head coaching job. That may be a record too, but I’m OK with that, I’m young at heart.
“I know what kinds of kids are here. They are hard working kids. I’ve only been on the job for two weeks and they have been very solid in the weight room. We’re just getting going now on the field. I think things will be good.”
Hooker said he will run a double wing offense with two tight ends and two wings.
Also on Tuesday, Caston hired Joseph Bockover as an assistant football and baseball coach who will also act as the school’s strength coach for all sports as well as being the school's K-12 art teacher. Nick Stuber will return as the defensive coordinator after a break from that position and Rusty Newby was also hired as an assistant football coach.
New boys basketball coach Carl Davis was hired as a junior high social studies teacher after coming back to Caston from Plymouth.
“With Mr. Jones resigning his position, there was some internal shifting and we were able to have a social studies position open which allowed Mr. Davis to come in,” Mollenkopf said.
Mollenkopf added that Kyle Evans, who was recently hired as the boys basketball coach at North Judson, will remain a physical education teacher at Caston.
“He got the North Judson job and it seems like a good fit. I’ve talked to Mr. Evans a little bit about it and it seems like he’s doing well and getting off to a good start there and that’s great for him and I’m happy for him,” Mollenkopf said.