The Wittenberg Tiger football team has been churning out winning seasons for sometime now. These wins can be attributed to the hard work and dedication the student athletes put forth throughout the school year, as well as the summer. Yes, football is a fall sport, however, it is a year round game. It takes preparation and organization to win ten guaranteed games.
The winning seasons can also be attributed to the coaches. Coaches sacrifice numerous hours so that they can put their players in the best possible position to win football games and win in life. In the past, Dave Maurer and Bill Edwards took on the responsibility of maturing these young men. In doing so, they set a standard for Wittenberg football that is still in effect today. Both men got the most out of their players on the field by having a combined record of 227-43-7. They also did a great job off the field by ensuring their players graduated and were able to prosper after football.
Current head coach Joe Fincham has been doing his part in upholding the winning tradition at Wittenberg by acquiring an overall record of 154-35, and dominating the North Coast Athletic Conference by posting a 102-16 record, and counting. Though Edwards, Maurer, and Fincham’s records are in their name, the numbers were not posted alone.
Coaches are a dime a dozen, but finding special people who care about a program, and what it offers, is what makes the difference. So the question becomes, where does one look to find these particular people? With the exception of a few, Fincham chooses to look no farther than the Tiger family. With the departure of Defensive Coordinator Andy Waddle, and running backs coach Rob Linkhart, both Wittenberg alumni, Fincham invited three of his former players to help in keeping the tradition alive.
Jake Bowman, who replaced Andy Waddle, is coaching the defensive backs for the Tigers. Bowman played as a tight end for the Tigers from 2003-2006. After graduating, Bowman coached at North Carolina Wesleyans for two seasons, and Randolph Macon for three seasons. For Bowman, when the position became available, choosing Wittenberg to was a no brainer.
“This program is special to me,” said Bowman. “It is an honor to be able to work with Coach Fincham, he has helped me a lot as a player, and as a professional.”
Michael Cooper may be a familiar name to some students. Cooper played wide receiver for the Tigers from 2008-12. Cooper ranks fourth in career receptions, seventh in total yards, and fifth in career touchdowns. After graduating Cooper began teaching social studies down the street at Springfield High School, and working with the Springfield Wildcats basketball team. Fincham extended an invitation for Cooper to coach while teaching, which he happily accepted.
“It was a good decision for me,” said Cooper. “It is nice being able to coach guys I used to play with.”
If Coopers name rung a bell, then Ben Zoeller has to stand out. The former Player of the Year has replaced Linkhart to coach the running backs, and assist the offense in general. Zoeller played quarter back for the Tigers from 2008-2012. In that time he and Cooper went 38-6, won back-to-back conference championships, and received many awards along the way. Prior to rejoining the team, Zoeller worked at Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company in his hometown of Louisville, Ky. He also coached the quarterbacks at his alma mater, high school powerhouse, St. Xavier (Louisville).
“I choose to come back to Wittenberg because I really wanted to get into college coaching, and Coach Fincham was grateful enough to give me the opportunity,” said Zoeller. “I love Wittenberg and how the football program transforms boys into men.”