Springfield High School didn't have to look far to find its next head football coach.
Rob Materni, the team's defensive coordinator for the last seven years and a Springfield alumnus, took the helm of the Blue Devils' program yesterday after being approved by the Springfield Local Board of Education on Wednesday night.
"I'm very excited about the opportunity, that's for sure," said Materni, a 36-year-old Holland resident and first-time head coach. "This has always been in the back of my mind. This is a little sooner than I had envisioned it, but I do feel prepared. I feel ready and I'm confident, and there's no place else I'd want to coach."
The position came open when former NFL player and University of Toledo standout Vince Marrow resigned last week after one season with the program to accept an assistant coaching position with the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League.
Springfield was 3-7 under Marrow in 2009.
"Given the situation, we thought the best thing for the kids was to keep continuity going," Springfield athletic director Robb Brown said. "This hire is what we think serves the best interest of the program. We're five weeks away from the start of the football season, so we wanted to get somebody in place quickly."
Despite his head coaching inexperience, Materni said he learned a lot in the year he spent working with Marrow and plans to use that experience this fall.
"I've been on staff for the last 10 years and had an opportunity to work with coach Marrow," Materni said. "Most high school coaches wish they could have an opportunity like that, so I'm very thankful for that. The system that Vince brought here, we won't be deviating from that. I'm a very strong believer in that and everything he taught us."
Materni said the Blue Devils would continue to run multiple sets on offense and defense.
"Very little is changing outside of the head coach," he said.
Materni pointed to the Blue Devils' 20-member senior class as a reason for optimism heading into this season.
"Because of the senior leadership we've been able to develop," Materni said, "I expect us to be successful this year. I expect big things this year."