BELDING — This upcoming football season will begin a new chapter in a long and rich football tradition for the Belding Redskins.
This offseason former Rockford assistant coach Joe Schwander was hired to take over the Redskins football program. Schwander replaces Joel Wilker who is now the school’s athletic director.
Schwander said the transition has gone well, but it has been a busy few months.
“It’s been great so far. Everyday we find something that needs to be worked on,” Schwander said. “Between fundraising and camps going on we have been busy.”
The Redskins will transform from the running dominated wing-T offense it is know for into an adaptable multiple offensive formation team this year.
Schwander, a former quarterback at Rockford and Hope College, has worked hard with his skill position players. The team has been conditioning all summer long, as well.
“We had some of our kids attend a quarterbacks and receivers camp this year,” Schwander said. “We had our team camp this year as well. We have done conditioning and the weight room has been opened up to all the guys. We are trying to give them as many opportunities as possible.”
The Redskins team camp was a good start with the installation of the new offense and defense.
“Our team camp was helpful. We got a lot of the offense installed,” Schwander said. “We have a lot to work on. The biggest thing you want in any program is having the kids excited and wanting to work hard. The kids have been awesome with both of those things.”
As with any change learning everything will take time.
“From a schematic standpoint that stuff always takes time, especially when it’s new,” he added. “We are where we need to be and a couple of weeks of two-a-days we will be where we need to be by game one.”
Schwander has been impressed with the community support the past few months. They have run several fundraisers along with a golf outing.
“The excitement and energy from the community has been great,” Schwander said. “We had a golf outing and some of the fundraisers have been tremendous. We are going in the right direction.”
Rudness Field will feature a new synthetic surface this season. The new turf will be introduced with the annual steak fry and other activities on Aug. 17.
Schwander said he and his team are excited about the new turf.
“Anytime you can play on turf it’s exciting,” Schwander said. “As a coach I’m excited about practicing on it. It allows us, especially in inclement weather, to still have a productive practice. You don’t have to worry about the field and the water drains so well.
“Lines all the time helps with spacing and alignment. It looks sharp and it plays fast. We are excited,” he added.
The Redskins remain in the O-K Blue conference after the league realigned this spring. It will be a seven team league and will feature three new teams in Allendale, GR Creston and Wyoming. Comstock Park, Cooopersville and Sparta remained with Belding.
Schwander is new to all the teams, but said the most important thing is focusing on his team right now.
“Our staff has been in the O-K Blue and are familiar with the other teams,” Schwander said. “I have not seen film on everybody yet. Right now, we are just trying to worry about ourselves and get our things in place. We will focus on Greenville as it gets close and then each game after that.”