New Juneau-Douglas High School football coach Bill Chalmers doesn't want Crimson Bears fans to forget about the late Reilly Richey.
Chalmers was named the Crimson Bears' new head coach Tuesday by the Juneau Youth Football League, which sponsors the high school team. The 68-year-old JDHS English literature and writing teacher replaces Richey, who died March 7.
Chalmers wants players and supporters to see the former coach in his team.
"I want them to remember Reilly through this team," Chalmers said. "This is still his team. These are his kids. The instructions I got from him, hopefully I can get them the last step of the way to graduation and ideally a state championship before they graduate."
Chalmers said he wants to follow the example the former coach set during his tenure.
"I think the thing inspired me most and made me feel that I could even attempt was that I was so in consort with his philosophy," Chalmers said. "He's a spiritual man and I like to think of myself as spiritual. We worship the same God in different churches. He's the strong moral man and morality is big in my life."
This will be Chalmers' first head coaching position after serving as an assistant on the Crimson Bears' junior varsity squad last season. He also has coached in an assistant role for three different high schools in Minnesota.
Chalmers played high school football and competed in college for NCAA Division III powerhouse St. John's of Minnesota. With the Johnnies, Chalmers played for the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division III history, John Gagliardi.
Chalmers' low-key, quiet demeanor made an impression on the JYFL board, which handles the hiring and much of the team's fundraising.
"I think the quality I like about him is his maturity," JYFL President Ted Lehrbach said. "Being at the high school is a distinct advantage because he's well-respected by the kids and he can keep an eye on grades. He's there with the students and that's extremely important. He's more of a quiet man than many normal coaches in terms of a stereotypical coach's personality."
Chalmers said he's not an X's and O's type coach and plans on delegating authority to his assistant coaches. He said he will keep Rich Sjoroos as offensive coordinator but hasn't decided on a coach to lead the defense as of yet. Chalmers said he will hold a meeting Thursday to pick his staff.
Chalmers is the third coach in Juneau-Douglas football history and inherits a team that made it to the state semifinals last season and the state championship game the year before.
Tim Nichols can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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