Castleton football is hoping a fresh face means a fresh start.
When asked about the upcoming season, and the expectations of a new head coach, linebacker Jay Morgan confidently said “conference championship.”
Morgan is not alone in his wishes. Several Castleton football players stressed the need for a head coach who can bring success to the program in his first year.
With the resignation of former head coach Marc Klatt this past December, the Castleton football program has been working around the clock to find a replacement. A five-member search committee, headed by Dean of Administration Scott Dikeman and Athletic Director Deanna Tyson, has narrowed down a field of 180 applicants from all around the country, to just eight final candidates.
Dikeman admits that the large pool of applicants makes for a lengthy process, but he sees the situation as an opportunity, rather than an obstacle.
“We feel we’ve got some really capable people, and rather than miss the potential opportunity, we’d rather spend the time to talk to all of them,” Dikeman said.
While the weight of the final decision lies mostly on the shoulders of Dikeman and the committee, Tyson has appointed a committee of 10 to 12 players to aid in the interviewing process. Returning captain and wide receiver Kevin Alberque is among those players.
“I feel good. I like that they’re including the players. I’m hoping that the players’ decision is of great value,” Alberque said.
Dikeman assures that the committee will “listen to their opinion, and take their opinion seriously.”
“Getting the feedback from the current players we have here, on who they think can bring in players, that’s the person we want,” Dikeman said.
After several players on the promising 2013 roster were charged with retail theft at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Rutland last fall, the town, the school, and the program are eagerly awaiting a fresh start. With the players and the committee working together, both groups are looking at this entire process as one big opportunity.
“I think it’s a new start for our program, especially with this past year, we were 1-9 and we had some of our players in the news for not the right reasons, so I think having a fresh face at the coaching position will be a good thing for the program,” Tyson said.
Arguably the most excited for a fresh start is returning Quarterback George Busharis.
“I think it will be good. Now we can focus 100 percent on football and getting better and winning a championship … After last season, with losing all of those games and everything that happened, I think next season it’s eyes on the prize, and I hope our coach is thinking the same way,” Busharis said.
Dikeman shares the hope for success, but says the search committee has more important criteria a candidate must meet to get the job.
“It’s really about the quality of the person. I think we always say we want a great coach, but a better person,” Dikeman said. “Winning is great, but that’s clearly not our priority. Our priority is to get somebody who’s going to make the players better people.”