On Tuesday night, Matt Weckler was approved by the DeKalb School District 428 board as the new football coach at DeKalb. Weckler coached six seasons at Belvidere, leading the Bucs to a 31-29 record and four playoff appearances in that span. Daily Chronicle sports editor Ross Jacobson talked with Weckler about his plans for the Barbs’ football program. Here’s an edited transcript:
Daily Chronicle: Why DeKalb? What had you excited about it and what drew you to the job?
Weckler: When I moved out to Belvidere and got the job, the DeKalb job opened up a couple times when I was actually coaching here. That’s when I had little bit less experience than what I do now and I applied for those jobs as well and it was unfortunate I didn’t get in for those jobs either.
For me, it’s just a place that I’ve wanted to go to. It’s almost like I’ve been destined to go to DeKalb and be successful. It just seems like a place that I wanted to be at. It’s a one-school town that I think really supports their athletics and their kids.
DC: You’re coming into a situation with a relatively new school and new stadium. How exciting is it to come into a school with new facilities?
Weckler: That was one of the additional factors that I looked at when I was applying for jobs. Belvidere is a good place to work and I’ve been very selective in figuring out schools I’d love to go to. The facilities at DeKalb have absolutely everything that I ever thought of having as a coach and as a P.E. teacher as well. That was a big factor.
DC: You move from the NIC-10 to the NI Big 12 and a lot of people think the NI Big 12 is one of the best conferences for its size in the state. What do you think of the move into a conference with teams like Kaneland, Morris and Sycamore, which have had such consistent success?
Weckler: I’ve made the playoffs four of the six years as a head coach and three of those years. ... I’ve lost to Kaneland twice and lost to Morris in the quarterfinals one year as well. I know how difficult that conference is.
From top to bottom I respect all those programs and all the coaches that are in there. Competition is what we all want to coach for. Hopefully I can get [DeKalb] to that level of the Morrises and the Kanelands and the Sycamores and Rochelle as well.
DC: You’ll have to fill assistant roles. Do you know what you want to do with those and what you’re planning to do?
Weckler: There’s a possibility I’ll probably bring some people with me from the Belvidere staff. Also put some feelers out there already about people I’ve contacted about making a switch over to DeKalb.
I also want to get some teachers in the building. I think that’s very important as a coaching staff. I always want to get some young guys in here that bring a lot of energy and some people we can groom to eventually move up.
DC: What was your experience like working under Bryon Houy for the five years you had Houy as your athletic director at Belvidere?
Weckler: To be honest, for me to actually apply for the DeKalb job, that wasn’t a big influence on me at all.
It’s very nice having him there and I work really well with Bryon. I know exactly what hes expecting of a coach and all the coaches in the building. There’s no gray area with Bryon. I think he runs a great athletic program as a whole, he promotes athletics, he promotes cooperation. That’s what I think he’s trying to build down here.
DC: What have you run at Belvidere? What’s your offensive scheme and are you planning to bring that to DeKalb?
Weckler: We are, we’re going to bring some of it. I’ve ran the triple-option, wishbone at Belvidere when I first started and then we’ve also run some pistol with some triple as well. That’s kind of what we’re going to bring here.
What we do with that is going to depend on the athletes that we have. I’d love to be able to run the ball and I think at the high school level it’s something you have to be able to do consistently in order to be good. I talked to the kids about [Tuesday] night a little bit after the school meeting for the kids who were there, be ready to be repetitioned to death. We’re not going to do a lot, but we’re going to do the little things and what we do we’re going to run them all the time.
DC: What specifically have you seen on tape you’ve seen of DeKalb?
Weckler: They have a lot of talent. To be honest, I think there have been years that we’ve made the playoffs here at Belvidere that I think DeKalb actually had a lot more talent than what we did. I think it comes down to having the kids buy into your system and them actually putting the work in and doing the little things.
DC: Overall, what do you think is the potential of this program?
Weckler: Everybody I’ve talked to, because I did a lot of research before applying and taking this job, it’s such untapped talent. They have the potential.
In talking to Bryon a little bit, everybody around I think is sick and tired of talking about potential. I guess my job coming in is to really utilize that potential and get kids to be successful. I think it’s a good core group of kids at DeKalb High School now that want to win. You talk to them, they want to do very well and compete for a conference playoff spot.