Hitz named Tell City football coach

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By Larry Goffinet

TELL CITY - Don Hitz, who has served as an assistant coach at Tell City and Heritage Hills, was named Tell City's new head football coach Tuesday.

Hitz, 44, served as an assistant coach at Tell City 1997-99 and returned to Tell City as an assistant for the 2007 season. He coached linebackers and receivers.

He was also an assistant at Heritage Hills 1994-96, where he coached junior high teams and the high school receivers.

Tell City Principal Dale Stewart said one other person was interviewed for the job but Hitz was chosen because of "his experience when he was here before and he's done some work with Coach Clayton at Heritage Hills, and all his references spoke highly of his ability.

"Plus I got to see his work in the classroom this year and how the students responded to him."

Hitz teaches English at Tell City High School so he should be able to start practice earlier each day than Elliott, who taught in Evansville the entire time he coached at Tell City.

Hitz said the reason he left Tell City after his first stint here was because he was in danger of losing his teaching position due to staff reductions.

With a young family, he said he needed to be sure of a job, so he went to work at Master Brand in Jasper as a corporate trainer.

He said he thinks he's ready to be a head coach now because "I've been around football all my life."

After graduating from Fairfield High School in a Cincinnati suburb in 1981, he earned a football scholarship to Indiana State University, where he played tight end until graduating in 1986.

"We had some really good years there," said Hitz. The Sycamores went 9-4 in 1983 and 9-3 in 1984.

The 1984 team was inducted into ISU's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002.

Hitz said he plans to run a "multiple offense with a lot of pro sets. We're not going to throw as much as we did last year - we'll be pretty much 50-50."

He said the team's base defense will probably be a 5-2 "with some 4-3, depending on down and distance."

As for the outlook for the 2008 season, he said, "I think we can compete." But he acknowledged, "We have some holes to fill. We definitely need more linemen."

The Marksmen were 5-6 this year and have had only six winning records in the last 15 years.

Hitz said he thinks the program needs "consistency and building it up through the feeder program" to become a consistent winner again. "We've had four coaches in the last 12 years."

He said he plans to be here for a long run he would like to expand the feeder program. "I'd eventually like to see flag football in the grade school (this year Tell City had no football program below seventh grade)."

Hitz succeeds John Elliott, who resigned last November after three years at the Marksmen's helm.

Elliott said he "didn't feel the commitment was there from the administration to take the football program to the next level."

But Hitz said Tuesday, "This administration has been fantastic working with me. There's no doubt they're on board."

Two assistant coaches were also formally hired Tuesday: Bill Alvey, a Tell City High School teacher who has previous experience on the football staff, and Matt Goffinet, a student at the University of Southern Indiana who is majoring in elementary education and is a former Heritage Hills player.

Holdover asistants include Greg Kincaid and Dan Knepper.

Hitz and his wife, Cathy, have three children, daughter, Olivia, 11; and sons, Gabe, 9; and Jordan, 7.