IT’S ALL IN THE FOOTBALL FAMILY
By BRANDON HURLEY
A deep, talent-rich and hungry coaching staff is a rare find at any school, let alone a 3A school in west central Iowa.
But what first-year head Greene County football coach Mitch Moore has brought on staff this fall is a sight to behold.
Four former college football players are now coaching under the former ISU director of high school relations, including the Rams’ most recent all-state selection.
Division III quarterback Cole Jaeschke, former ISU starters Levi Peters, Nick Fett and John Michael Sawhill all join the already well-established Greene County staff, forming a tight-knit and knowledgable group.
Moore almost instantly leaned on his Iowa State connections, pitching former offensive lineman Nick Fett on an open position at a wedding over the summer. After mulling it over at a few more teammate weddings, Fett was hooked.
A fairytale in its own right, Fett, Moore’s new offensive line coach, is the epitome of hard work and never his dreams waver. He played his high school ball at the small Iowa school of Audubon and walked on to Iowa State. By his senior season in 2016, he was starting on the offensive line of a Big 12 program.
“From an O-lineman standpoint, he’s not very far removed from the game of football,” Moore said. “He is is really proficient in O-line play. A lot of stuff we’re going to do O-line wise is what Iowa State does and what I’ve kind of grown up in my whole life.
A menacing presence on the Iowa State offensive line as a senior, Fett will not only provide a significant intimidation factor on the Greene County sidelines, but he’ll bring with him a wealth of knowledge.
“The way the new [ISU] staff was with Matt Campbell, there’s a level of expectation that I want for the players,” the former Wheeler said. “I get that it’s high school and you might not be up to that level they are, but you still have to keep everyone to a standard. I’ve demanded a lot out of our players and they’ve done a great job. They work hard and have been able to pick up things. I don’t care if you completely blow your assignment, as long as you’re going hard, you’re going fast and you give me everything you’ve got.”
A re-dedication to an offensive line that didn’t give quarterback Clint Dennhardt much time last fall is of utmost importance.
“From an offensive line standpoint, it will be five guys working together, there’s nobody ever on an island alone,” Moore said. “We’re five guys working together and coach Fett does a great job with those guys.”
Levi Peters is a former Iowa State linebacker, a vocal leader on the Cyclones and a lightening rod for motivation and public relations.
He’s another one of those rags-to-riches stories that Moore has become so found of. He’ll coach the linebacking crew, naturally.
The word energy is the first thing that comes to mind with him. He’s just a tremendous, tremendous guy with the kids and brings fantastic energy in everything we do,” Moore said. “He brings energy to the staff room. he brings energy to practice and warm-ups, every single day.”
Peters was a team captain for Iowa State as a linebacker in 2015, recording four sacks, 47 tackles and six tackles for loss. He led the team in forced fumbles with three. He’s worked his way up from Gilmore City to a Big 12 defense and now a coaching position at Greene County.
“He’s had to play with a chip on his shoulder his whole life, so he’s kind of instilling that in our linebackers,” Moore said. “You can’t play the linebacker position without a chip on your shoulder. He’s really done a good job with that linebacking crew and and getting them to play with aggression.”
Jaeschke will take on dual roles as the quarterbacks coach and Greene County’s offensive coordinator. The Moorland, Iowa native threw for an Upper Iowa State University single-season record of 3,350 yards as a senior in 2014 (which was the eighth best mark in the NCAA, Division III). He also threw for 23 touchdowns and amassed a school record of 11,714 yards throughout his four-year career, also setting records for career passing touchdowns (85) and total offense (12,174 yards), and career passing touchdowns (85). He’s also the al-time record holder in the Northern Sun Conference for career passing yards and total offense.
“Cole was an all-time great [at Upper Iowa] and just really proficient in the pass game. He’s worked with Clint Dennhardt and he’s known him for a long time,” Moore said. “[Jaeschke] and I really came from the same background in terms of what our offense is like. It’s been a seamless transition with Cole and I.
Moore continued, “He’s really good with the kids. He’s really mild-mannered. Just a great amount of football knowledge in him. It’s been fun to have him help coach our quarterbacks and running backs.”
Mark Sawhill, Chad Morton, Bob Allen and Ronnie Pollock will all once again play significant roles in the football program as well. Moore refused to clean house when he signed on in the winter. The head coach was especially pleased with the work from Morton.
“Chad Morton is a staple of our staff,” Moore said. “He’s just a do-it-all guy. He does everything from building our film tower, to loading the film on Hudl to learning every single position he can. I can’t thank Chad enough for his work, and I couldn’t do it without him and all his help.”
Sawhill’s son, John Michael, who earned all-state honors in 2007 at Jefferson-Scranton, the Rams’ last all-state player, will coach the defense as a volunteer.
“He is a great schematic mind and he’s good with the kids, too,” Moore said. “He’s really, really brilliant in the game of football.”
Building a strong foundation through his coaching staff is yet another key Moore feels will guide the Rams to championship glory.
“I’m really, really happy about our staff and I feel really good about it. We are real fortunate to be in a small town and have that many guys that know the game of football. It’s pretty darn good,” Moore said. “I’m so lucky to have those guys around me. I was driving home the other night and realized I couldn’t do this without my assistants. They’ve been fantastic.”
As the Rams inch closer and closer to game day, the new staff is eager to strap on the headsets and dust off the play sheets.
“Everyone that has played high school football, you always look back to the Friday nights,” Fett said. “To be back here and to be a part of something again like this. College is college ball, but everything starts with high school football and your love for the game. I’m excited.”