Paul Adams filed this report on the new Ubly football coach...
UBLY — When the search began for a new Ubly varsity football coach, athletic director Dan Delamarter knew what he wanted.
He was looking for a person familiar with the program who would continue down the path that former coach Bill Sweeney and defensive coordinator Jim Becker had started.
Delamarter didn’t have to go far to find that man, as he promoted junior varsity coach Dave Kaufman.
“My goal was to keep as many people in place,” said Delamarter. “(Dave) has worked closely under Bill. His goals are the same as Bill’s.
“When we make these decisions, the kids come first. I think this works best for the kids and everyone.”
Sweeney and Becker took over the varsity job in 2003. It was also at that time Kaufman became the junior high coach.
Two years later, Kaufman was promoted to junior varsity.
“It’s pretty easy when you had them above you,” said Kaufman. “When you had any issues, they had answers. I really enjoyed working under those guys.
“I’ve learned everything I know in football from Bill and Jim.”
Although he was the junior varsity coach, Kaufman could be found every Friday night on the sideline of varsity games, as well.
He served as Sweeney’s ears to the booth, since Sweeney preferred not to wear a headset. The experience of relaying information back and forth also helped prepare Kaufman for the move to varsity.
“I was always hearing everything that was going on, so that helped out a lot,” he said.
Ubly is known for running the Wing-T offense. Under Kaufman, it will remain that way.
“It’s not like Ubly’s going to change,” he said. “It’s going to be the same stuff we’ve done year after year.
“This is what the kids know. We’re not a spread team, we’re a grind it out kind of team. We’re not always gifted with the greatest athletes, so we just try to make it as simple as we can.
“This group of kids has run the T since Pee Wee, so this is what they know and what they’re good at. We wanted things to stay as they were, and we all talked about how we could keep them that way.”
Helping Kaufman on the defensive side of the ball will be veteran junior high coach Chuck Wright.
“He’s really been doing a lot of work since this decision was made,” Kaufman said. “He’s been working on the defense and working with Jim.”
In eight years, Sweeney helped Ubly compile a 78-19 record. The Bearcats made the playoffs each season, including four trips to the state semifinals and a Division 7 runner-up in 2008.
Currently, the team is riding a 32-game regular season winning streak. It’s the longest such streak in the modern history of Thumb high school football.
Kaufman knows the expectation is to win — and win often — at the varsity level.
“It’s a lot of pressure,” he said. “On JV, you want to do well, but if you win or lose, it’s not that big of a deal.
“Up here, it is a big deal.
“There are a lot of expectations with Ubly because of what we’ve done the last few years. Bill and Jim have set that standard pretty high.”
Even though Sweeney and Becker have left the program, they are still helping it in any way they can.
“Bill has given me everything that he has,” he said. “I couldn’t ask anything more from Bill and Jim, they’ve helped us out immensely.
“They’re the type of guys that, if I have a question, I know I can get an answer.”
As the calendar quickly approaches Aug. 8, the first official day teams can practice, Kaufman has many feelings.
“Excited and nervous,” he said.
He is also optimistic because of the off-season participation he’s had from the players.
“The turnout for the weight room and summer workouts has been tremendous,” he said.
“That’s telling me that they want to be good and they want to keep the Ubly tradition going.”