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BARRY POE bpoe@siouxcityjournal.com Jun 9, 2018

SIOUX CITY – Brian Webb is well aware of the football tradition at East High. That’s one of the reasons he left Cedar Rapids Jefferson to become the Black Raiders’ new head coach.

“I never would have left the position I had if I didn’t feel we could be successful here,” Webb said. “After I got offered the job I spent some time making phone calls to people and had a really good feeling about the setup of the program and the direction it could head.

“The number of kids involved in the youth level was exciting to me and the amount playing middle school football was definitely exciting. Talking to many alumni, there’s an eagerness to get back to winning consistently and I feel we have the resources and the kids to do that, so now it’s just getting them to understand what I believe it takes to be successful, to win football games.”

A Cedar Falls, Iowa, native and University of Northern Iowa graduate, Webb spent the last five seasons at Jefferson, turning a struggling program around to the tune of a 37-40 record. The J-Hawks snapped a 24-game losing streak shortly after he arrived, had its first winning season since 2000 and won its first playoff game since 1992.

Jefferson made the playoffs in 2014 and ’15, which was the school’s first back-to-back appearances since 1979.

Webb spent two seasons at Carroll Kuemper, guiding the Knights to an 18-4 record and two playoff berths. He was the Class 2A district coach of the year in 2011.

His resume also includes stints as an assistant under Gary Swenson (West Des Moines Valley) and current West Des Moines Dowling coach Tom Wilson (Dike-New Hartford). Webb was a graduate assistant at St. Cloud State University.

“I think the biggest thing with a new coach is understanding my philosophies and getting kids and the community to buy into those philosophies,” Webb said. “I had a parent meeting talking about some of those things a couple weeks ago and had a good turnout for that.”

Scheme, Webb said, only takes you so far.

“Eleven players is what wins a football game,” he said. “There’s no magical plays, no magical schemes that beats teams. If there was everybody would be doing that. It’s just getting young people to excel in all facets of their life.

“Myself and (defensive coordinator) Nick Taylor are setting up some things to get the kids active in the community. I’m a people first guy and kids win football games. It’s getting kids and the community to understand that winning doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a step-by-step process.”

Webb’s predecessor, Bob Goodvin, took East to the Class 4A playoffs in seven of his nine seasons as head coach and had a 48-40 overall record.

East, of course, has a storied history under the late Hall of Famer Walt Fiegel, whose 1984 team captured the 4A state championship.

The Black Raiders finished 4-5 last fall, which was the same record as Webb’s Cedar Rapids Jefferson squad.

A main topic of discussions at the recent parent’s meeting, Webb said, was the good wolf, bad wolf.

“A good friend of mine who is a psychologist and I talk about this a lot with kids I work with, you’re feeding the good wolf and the bad wolf,” Webb said. “Every single person is going through something in life. We’ve all got something in our life that’s causing anxiety and depression or frustration. We need to start being nice to each other and support each other because we’re all going through things.

“I truly believe that winning is a byproduct of developing young people to be great people and cohesiveness as a unit or team doesn’t happen overnight. There are activities and team building things we are going to do to bridge those things, but understand we have to put people first to be successful in life.”

One of the biggest obstacles for 4A schools in this part of the state is having to compete against some of the top schools in Des Moines.

“There are good teams everywhere, so I’m not focusing on those things and who we play, I’m just focusing on us,” Webb said. “I can’t control what Valley and Dowling does. I’m good friends with those guys, I coached with Swenson and Tkm (Wilson), but I just want to focus on us as a team. Take it game by game. I know the first one is a big one.”

Webb has assembled what appears to be a top-notch coaching staff, beginning with Taylor, who was on several collegiate staffs. Former Morningside offensive coordinator Keenan Ganz will direct the offense.

The staff also includes, among others, former longtime Sergeant Bluff-Luton head coach Chris Zyzda, who was a starting lineman at the University of Nebraska. Spetlar Tonga, a former Morningside College linebacker and the all-time leading tackler in the history of Sioux City Bandits indoor football, is the linebackers coach.

Kyle Nikkel, who had a highly productive season as Morningside College quarterback before switching to basketball, will coach East’s quarterbacks. Mike Winklepleck, who starred at Morningside and played with the Bandits and has been a member of the East staff since 2013, is the secondary coach.