Prep Football

Interesting names could be in line to be QND's next coach

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jan. 30, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Jan. 30, 2018 1:11 am

Bill Connell firmly believes the vacant Quincy Notre Dame football coaching position is an attractive one.

Few will argue that.

The Raiders have created a history of success, having reached the playoffs in 21 of the past 26 seasons. They've sent five players to NCAA Division I programs and handful of others to NCAA Division II or NAIA programs since 2004. They have been forced in recent years to travel great distances to fill their schedule, the Raiders usually find interesting matchups in unique places to provide their student-athletes with a memorable experience.

The job Connell left when he announced his resignation last week still has some interesting hurdles.

At the top of that list is the fact no teaching position appears available, at least not for now.

Connell is staying at QND as the athletic director and dean of students, so a teaching position or other administrative position will have to open for a coach to join the staff. QND teachers have yet to announce their intentions for the 2018-19 school year, leaving Connell and QND principal Mark McDowell without a good answer should a qualified candidate want to teach at the school.

Is a teaching position, or lack thereof, a deal breaker? Maybe not.

QND sponsors 16 Illinois High School Association-sanctioned sports -- eight each for boys and girls. Twelve of those programs have coaches not employed full-time by the school. The only coaches on staff are assistant athletic director Eric Orne, who coaches girls basketball and softball, and physical education teacher Mark Longo, who coaches boys golf and girls soccer.

QND isn't afraid to think outside the box with a coaching hire, nor is it adverse to giving a young coach a chance. Of the 15 coaches currently under contract, 10 received their first head coaching gig at QND. Connell was just 22 years old when he was hired to coach the Raiders in 1992.

So who might be his successor?

Several names are being tossed around. Some might apply. Some might not. At this point, it's all conjecture since the job was originally posted last Friday, and the school has yet to start combing through resumes.

The group of potential coaches is intriguing.

Culver-Stockton College assistant coach Jack Cornell, Unity-Payson coach Conner McLaughlin and Bowling Green coach Kevin Krietemeyer all have either a winning pedigree or strong ties to the school. QND defensive coordinator Ben Morrison has experience on the staff and a strong understanding of the roster. Quincy High School assistant coach Brian Lewton has head coaching experience, while QHS assistant coach Ryan Wiemelt is a QND alum who was a starting center when he played for Cornell.

Cornell might be the best fit. He played for Connell and served as an assistant before joining the C-SC staff last year. Cornell's resume is impressive, having played at the University of Illinois and in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders. He also was on the practice squad of the Baltimore Ravens when they won Super Bowl XLVII.

QHS assistant coach Brian Lewton

McLaughlin, who played linebacker at QND and served on the QND staff, wrapped up his first season as a head coach last fall, guiding the Mustangs to a 4-5 record. Krietemeyer, a Culver-Stockton College graduate, spent five seasons at Unity-Payson, leading the Mustangs to back-to-back playoff appearances, the first playoff victory in program history and back-to-back 10-win seasons.

Morrison would be an attractive candidate if they choose to promote from within, while Lewton was the head coach at West Hancock in 2011 and 2012. He is the head sophomore coach at QHS.

Wiemelt spent six seasons on the QND staff before joining the staff at QHS, where he is the special teams coordinator and a varsity assistant coach.

Certainly other names will crop up. Some of these names will fade away.

Regardless, this region is blessed with talented coaches who are ready to make this program their own.