CEDAR LAKE | The Hanover Community School Board hired its first football coach in more than four decades on Tuesday night, voting 5-0 in favor of hiring Robert Harrison.
Hanover will play junior varsity football this fall, varsity football in 2014 and will be eligible for the IHSAA postseason in 2015.
"It's definitely exciting," Harrison said. "There is a buzz around the town. What's best for me, though, is to see the excitement on the faces of the kids."
John Shipley was the Wildcats last football coach in 1971, their last season.
Harrison is a second-year business teacher at the school and has run Hanover's middle school program both years. He is a 2006 graduate of North Vermillion, where he was a Class A all-state quarterback.
He threw for more than 2,500 yards his senior year, possibly indicating what kind of football Hanover will play once it gets here.
"I want to get my athletes in space," Harrison said. "I have an old-school mentality with a new-school philosophy. We will score points; I can tell you that."
Athletic director Jeff Brooks said he had 20 applicants for the position. While some may have preferred a coach with a longer varsity resume, the search committee was happy with Harrison, who has run the program and has had 40-plus athletes out for conditioning at 6 a.m. this spring.
"We did the interviews and Robert was the consensus pick," Brooks said. "He's young and he understands the game. The kids love him and want to play for him."
Hanover will be a Class 3A program in 2015. The Wildcats will open their 2014 varsity season against Bowman Academy.
When Harrison started the program two years ago, he said several players were putting their girdles on backwards. That isn't happening anymore.
"I'm excited," Harrison said. "I can't wait to get started."