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FB: Hill named interim coach at New Palestine

July 9, 2012
Hancock County Sports

Charlie Hill has been named New Palestine's interim football coach. Hill had been the Dragons' defensive coordinator. Offensive coordinator Jeremy Large will be promoted to associate head coach.

Hill had been the Dragons' defensive coordinator for three years, and is a seven-year veteran of the football staff. He becomes the fourth head coach in the Dragons' 44-year football history, which played its first varsity season in 1968.

The appointment is pending the approval of the Southern Hancock school board, which will meet later this month.

The Dragons decided to promote from within on an interim, one-year basis following a late-June coaching vacancy.

"We wanted to do what was best for the kids and moving the program forward," New Palestine athletic director Al Cooper said. "These guys have been moving forward with our kids all year. To interrupt that with a new philosophy would be detrimental to our kids. We're putting the kids first.

"This is a big message for our kids and it shows that we've been successful in the past and we have coaches who can get that success running. We feel like Charlie, Jeremy and the staff's leadership moving us in that direction. They are very professional and knowledgeable. The things Charlie's defense has done under his leadership speaks for itself. We feel he'll continue to put us in the best position to win, along with Jeremy's help on the offensive side and with the rest of the staff."

In the last three seasons, the Dragons went 30-6. Hill's defense allowed 12.1 points per game and posted three shutouts last season, as the Dragons posted their first unbeaten regular season since 1988, finished the year ranked No. 1 in the AP poll and won their second straight Hoosier Heritage Conference championship. In 2010, the Dragons allowed 8.1 points per game en route to a 9-2 record. The Dragons have posted 10 shutouts in the seven years Hill has been on staff, and have gone 58-23 in that span, winning two sectional and three HHC championships. He inherits a team with a core of players who have also been a part of that success.

"I believe that when you pass down the traditions and learning experiences, success is a part of that," Hill said. "If you come from a culture that's won, you have a much less difficult task of teaching people how to win, how to be collected and calm in those few seconds of every game that mean the difference between winning and losing. It comes with the plan and expectations, we have guys that know what it takes to win."

Hill spoke to his players about maintaining the tradition that has existed in the New Palestine program since it began with Hall of Fame coach Marvin Shepler, who led the Dragons from 1968-2001.

"We have a long tradition here that started with Marv," he said, then noted the 18 football players on the school's Wall of Fame. He also noted that coaches on his staff helped start the New Palestine Cadet Football League youth program, which he has been a part of since its infancy. Large and several other assistants have been a part of building the program from the ground up.

"You've got people who have been involved in this for a long time in one fashion or another," Hill said. "There are great football opportunities with our community's kids. Those guys have been here and there volunteering their time to help these kids who want the chance to be a player for New Palestine on Friday night."

They also maintain a largely-intact staff that has been together for several years.

"I wouldn't have been in this spot to take this on if it weren't for the group of dedicated, committed, passionate coaches that we have intact," Hill said. "We don't have to change a lot on offense and defense. We have a successful history of taking what we've done and moving forward.

Hill is a graduate of Beech Grove High School and also played football at Hanover College. He cited former BG coaches Craig Hayes and Fritz Feigert, Hanover coaches Pete Compise and Coach Kovalchuck and former NPHS head coach Doug Armstrong as influences. "One of the cool things is that every year gives kids a chance to give back, everybody who plays high school football has been affected in one way or another by his coaches," Hill said.

Large will also have a larger role as associate head coach. He had been offensive coordinator for a team that broke nearly all of the school's passing records last season.

"He has taken care of the day-to-day things in the building," Cooper said. "This is going to allow him to take the bull by the horns even more. We want what's best for the kids.

"In our situation, we're going to rally around it and move forward. Here is an opportunity, we're going to run with it. We're committed to that. I feel like one of Charlie's great strengths is that he's extremely organized and thorough. As far as preparation goes, that's not going to change. We all appreciate Charlie's leadership in stepping up and putting the program on a good foundation."

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