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One year off from being a head football coach turned out to be long enough for Mike Vicars.
Vicars, who stepped down as head coach to be an assistant last season at Genoa, is set to become the next Clay head coach.
Vicars, 49, succeeds Mike Donnelly, who resigned following the 2012 season but remains as Clay’s athletic director.
Oregon Schools superintendent Mike Zalar said that Vicars will also be hired as an assistant principal at Fassett Junior High starting next school year. His hiring to those positions is subject to approval by the Oregon school board on Tuesday.
Vicars is 153-82 overall in 21 seasons as a head coach (Holgate, Ada, Hilltop, Delta, Genoa).
“Frankly, Mike was our first choice,” Zalar said. “The fact that he’s a resident of Oregon is a huge plus. He took a little time off last year, and we knew that maybe he was thinking about not going back into [head] coaching."
Also up for approval for the school board will be the hiring of Clay’s new volleyball coach, Dave Conley, who led Toledo Christian to two Division IV state semifinal appearances.
Vicars turned Genoa into one of Ohio’s top-rated Division IV programs. After losing 14-7 at Oak Harbor in its 2007 opener under Vicars, the Comets reeled off 48 straight regular-season wins, falling in the 2011 regular-season finale 25-23 to Eastwood.
In five seasons Vicars guided Genoa to a 56-7 overall record and won four consecutive outright titles in the former Suburban Lakes League. He led the Comets to the first five playoff appearances in school history. Genoa reached the D-IV state semifinals in 2008.
Vicars stepped down as head coach following the 2011 season, but remained as the offensive coordinator last season for his longtime friend, Tim Spiess, who became the head coach. Both graduated from Liberty Center.
“While I was on Christmas break [Clay principal] Jeff Thompson asked me if I could come talk to Dr. Zalar and him about this possibility I was kind of skeptical.
“I did that and, to my surprise, my football heartbeat started to tick a little bit faster. After a lot of talking with my wife, it kind of all fell together and I decided [Thursday] night that I would do it again. The administrative position was very important in this.”
Vicars is currently an assistant principal at Genoa.
At Clay, Vicars’ biggest challenge won’t be rebuilding a program, but finding a way to make the Eagles (5-5, 3-4 TRAC in 2012) competitive in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference.
“There’s no question that the TRAC has to be ranked one of the toughest conferences in the state when you can produce a state champion (Central Catholic, Division II) and a state runner-up (Whimer, Division I),” Vicars said. “Not only do you look at the teams in that conference, but look at the coaching staffs. It’s just extraordinary.
“It’s a very tall order. I’m going to have to grow as a coach for sure. Another big factor is that I live here [in Oregon]. I can see the stadium lights from my driveway.”
Before Genoa, Vicars coached at Delta, where he inherited a team that had gone 0-10 in 1998.
In eight seasons, he had a 62-29 record and the Panthers won three Northwest Ohio Athletic League titles, went to the playoffs six times, and reached the D-IV state semifinal in 2003.