Rifle hires football coach | PostIndependent.com

Rifle hires football coach

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colorado ” Bill Kucera has been on the prowl for a coaching job in a “football-oriented town” for a while now. In accepting Rifle High School’s head coaching job, he believes he’s found just that.

“I’ve really been looking for something with, I guess, a one-school mentality,” the veteran coach of 28 years said, “kind of a football-oriented town. This is a good fit.”

It’s no secret that Rifle loves its football. The Bears have made habit of putting a good product on the field, making the state playoffs in each of the last 13 seasons and winning a Class 3A state title in 2004.

Kucera, too, is used to winning.

“It’s always been my philosophy that, if you’re not training to win the whole thing, there’s really no point,” he said. “it’s about training to win that last game, every championship game.”

In more than a quarter century of coaching football, Kucera’s held coaching jobs in Colorado, Nebraska, Arizona, Nevada and Texas. Most notably, he won a state title as head coach at Schuyler (Neb.) High School in 1986 and was a graduate assistant on Tom Osborne’s staff at the University of Nebraska in the late 1980s-early 1990s.

Kucera’s most recent head coaching job was at Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins, where he served as the program’s first coach from 2004 to 2005. He was a defensive coordinator at Ranum High School in Denver the following year and had been working to build up a strength training business in the Fort Collins area the past two years.

But the prospect of coaching and teaching again was just too enticing for Kucera, who is a certified strength coach and will be a physical education teacher at Rifle High School.

“I found out I was a better coach than a businessman,” he said. “Standing on the sidelines watching this year I just couldn’t stand it. I thought, ‘I can still do this.’ So I gave it a shot.”

What Kucera likes best about Rifle is its blue-collar mentality.

“It has a small-town atmosphere, work ethic,” said Kucera, who after years of coaching in such areas experienced a wake-up call of sorts coaching on the Front Range. “I’ve always had early morning weights at 6 [a.m.] and when I got [to the Front Range] the people here were screaming. ‘We don’t want to get up to take our kids there at 6 o’clock!'”

Such wasn’t the case when Kucera introduced himself to his new team in Rifle.

“I told them we’d go at 7 and a bunch of them raised their hand and asked, ‘Can we go at 6? We have to go to work so we want to go as early as possible.’ That told me right away this was a good thing.”

That’s how they do things in Nebraska, where Kucera grew up playing football. He played running back and offensive line in high school before an industrial accident in which he burned his hands cut his playing days short.

But Kucera’s athletic exploits weren’t over. He went on to compete as a powerlifter for 12 years as his teaching and coaching career blossomed.

Now in the twilight of his career, Kucera is hitting the ground running as he takes the reins from outgoing Bears coach Damon Wells, who called it quits after going 23-14 in three years at Rifle that included a trip to the 2005 state title game.

“He’s already jumped into things,” Rifle athletic director Mike Green said. “He’s already working with the kids, doing all the things you need to do to build a program.”

One of the first things on Kucera’s plate was accompanying his players to the Mesa State College football camp this week.

“I’m just real happy with what I’ve seen so far,” he said. “I know the expectations are high and that’s one reason I looked into this job. … If expectations aren’t high, you’re not going to want me. I tell people that in the interview. If you don’t want to win another championship, you don’t want me. If those expectations are there, it’s a great fit.”

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