Mike DeVol hard at work as new Belpre football coach

Mike DeVol speaks during a Belpre Board of Education meeting at Belpre High School. DeVol was named the new Belpre football coach. Photo by Michael Erb

BELPRE — Three months into his new position, Mike DeVol is hard at it as Belpre’s head football coach.

So far, DeVol in his fourth head coaching stop in the Mid-Ohio Valley — five if you count Caldwell twice — has taken to his task as the Golden Eagles’ gridiron honcho with a desire to bring Belpre back into area football prominence again.

To that goal eventually, starting at the bottom of the ladder, “we’ve got a group of junior high kids that I think we’ll have enough of to have a team this year,” said DeVol. “In other words, our goal is to play 27 games — we want to have 10 varsity, 10 reserve and seven junior high.”

Right now though, his varsity squad that numbers in the 35 range has basically been lifting weights lately before a couple contact days later this month and also in mid-July prior to the start of everyday practice come July 30 leading up to the season’s first game on Friday, Aug. 24.

DeVol stresses that his team members “have to want to be players, want to be good and want to be champions — and I think the group we’ve got right now does.”

Another item DeVol uses is “Meet the Parents Night,” which was held this past Thursday for him and his staff to get to know players’ parents, because “you can’t have a football program without the support of the players’ moms and dads,” he said.

To which DeVol added, “Coaches make a difference in the lives of the kids they have, I truly believe that because they did it to me.”

DeVol too tries “to watch at least one tape every night” of a Belpre football game from last season. “Sometimes it’s to see what the opponent (TVC) coaches do, but also to look at the talent we’ve got and try to match the talent of our kids coming back to what we need at certain positions this coming year.

“And yes, I believe we do have good talent, and our goal for this fall is to be 7-3, our goal for two years is 9-1 and after that, anything is possible.”

Belpre had only six seniors last year, “and at one point during last season, they would have had 15 kids coming back, and three of them are back as juniors,” said DeVol. Two losses, though, are the Simoniette brothers, Brandon who started at quarterback last year and running back Ryan, who opted to transfer to Warren.

To bring in assistants to fill up his coaching staff, DeVol primarily dug back into his past coaching stops for people “who have learned to win, have won and been successful at everything they’ve done in life,” he noted.

They are from Parkersburg South: Cody Miller, who played on the 2003 Patriot team DeVol coached to the state championship along Bob Springer, Randy Edge and Larry Boston; from Belpre: Ryan Hutchinson, on last year’s staff; Curt Shriver, former head football coach both at Belpre and Parkersburg Catholic; and Ryan Leasure, brother of the head boys basketball coach; from Federal Hocking: Jeff Carmichael; and in addition, DeVol’s son Troy as well as Jeff Cotton.

Lastly, coming in to take over a program and be able to win seven or eight games in the very first year “takes a lot of work,” said DeVol. “In other words, you work on football from morning to evening.

“But coaching football is something that I love to do, or I wouldn’t have done it for the past 48 years as a teacher. And I guess overall, I’ve played or coached the sport for 62 years. But I just love teaching kids; it’s great.”