By Kurt Ritzman
Assistant Sports Editor
Northeast athletic director Gregg Mohl is pleased with the selection of Jerad Block as the Rebels’ new head football coach.
"Once we got the applications, he was the guy we wanted," Mohl said.
After it was known Ryan Unruh would not return as coach, Block, who served as the Rebels’ special teams coach last year, took some time to decide whether to apply.
“It was about a week, maybe less,” Block said. “I wanted to make sure my full heart was in it and it was the right decision for myself and my family. The head coach role takes a lot of time commitment.”
Block has his work cut out for him, though; Northeast went 3-15 the past two seasons.
“The first thing is for the kids to build on the Northeast tradition,” Block said. “I want them to play other sports and be competitive year-round. Under coach (Jeremy) Mosier and the coaches before him, Northeast had success. What’s the difference now? There is none. Sure, we’re in Class 2A and we’re in a tough district, but that’s no excuse to not have a winning record. We need to build on that tradition.”
Block has a lot of things going for him in turning the program around, and one is that he works in the high school, which Unruh did not.
"In the football position, it's hard if you're not in the building,” Mohl said.
“It will help tremendously,” Block said. “I’m around the kids constantly, and I can hold them accountable to do what it takes to be a good football program. I get to know their personalities and then I can coach toward those personalities.”
Another thing in Block’s corner is a wealth of experience as an assistant coach.
"He has a lot of experience,” Mohl said. “He was on the North Scott staff, the Bettendorf staff, the DeWitt staff. That's pretty good experience with Randy Scott, Kevin Tippett and Kurt Kreiter. I'm excited to have him on board."
Block, a Central DeWitt graduate, played for Kreiter when he was in high school.
“I was fortunate to not only play for Kurt Kreiter, but to have him as a coaching resource,” Block said. “He taught me the skills behind the game — how to be organized and get prepared, how to build quality young men of character. The bulk of what I learned comes from coach Kreiter and coach Tippett. That’s how to approach the game and how to teach it to kids.
“One of the main things I learned from coach Tippett was game-planning. He had every situation thought of and planned for. In my opinion, he’s one of the top coaches at that on this side of the state.”
As far as a coaching philosophy, one of the things Block has stressed is being physical.
“Defensively, we’re going to be physical and play with a little attitude,” he said. “If you watch Alabama (in the BCS Championship game), they all fly to the football. That’s what we’ll do. Offensively, we’re going to develop a physical running game. We’ll also be able to spread the ball around out of multiple formations to multiple receivers. We’re definitely going to make the team we’re playing have to defend the whole field against us.”
Continuing that theme, he said a more physical defense was one of the things Northeast fans could look forward to seeing.
“It will be a faster-paced ballgame,” Block said. “There will be more excitement on the offensive side. Hopefully we’ll give them a lot to cheer about.”
Block said he’d met with the football team a couple times already and many of them embraced his message.
“I told them it’s going to be a lot more work and a bigger time commitment than they’re used to,” he said. “A lot of the kids are excited for it.”
It seems they’ll be more excited about putting in the work if Block can get the Rebels to produce better results on the field.