By DAVE HANNEMAN
FOSTORIA — Derek Kidwell remembers walking off the football field on many Friday nights, the high-banked lights of Memorial Stadium illuminating another winning effort by the Redmen.
A generation later, he wants the Fostoria players now coming through the ranks to be able to have that same experience.
“A lot of these kids don’t know what it feels like to put their head on their pillow after a win,” said Kidwell, who was hired as Fostoria head football coach during Monday’s board of education meeting.
“Right now, all we want to do is get that first win, because winning can become as contagious as losing does.”
The Kidwell name is synonymous with winning football in Fostoria.
Dick Kidwell compiled a 174-50-3 record in 20 seasons as Fostoria’s football coach. He guided the Redmen to 12 Great Lakes League titles, state championships in 1991 and 1996 and state runner-up seasons in 1989 and 1992.
Derek Kidwell was Ohio’s Mr. Football when the Redmen won a state title in 1991, throwing for 1,536 yards and 15 touchdowns, rushing for 379 yards and another five TDs, and recording 44 tackles at defensive end.
Derek Kidwell started following in his father’s footsteps before he graduated from Bowling Green State University, first serving under his father at Fostoria, then as an assistant at Lima Senior.
“I learned so much from my dad. He’s my idol,” Derek Kidwell said.
Derek Kidwell got his first head coaching position at Hopewell-Loudon where, after 4-6 and 5-5 seasons, he guided the program to back-to-back 8-2 records and consecutive playoff appearances.
Kidwell moved on to Fremont Ross in 2004, and again his ability to build a program came through.
Fremont Ross was 1-19 the two years before Kidwell arrived, but 9-11 his first two years with the program. He then guided the Little Giants to a Greater Buckeye Conference championship (5-0), a 10-0 regular season and 10-1 overall record after a first round playoff loss.
Fremont Ross earned another GBC title and playoff appearance in 2010 and compiled a 61-41 in his 10 years as head coach. Fremont Ross did not renew Kidwell’s coaching contract this year. The team went 5-5 in 2013, Fremont’s third 5-5 record in the past five seasons.
The Fostoria job opened up when employment opportunities took Jim Kelly and his family out of state, bringing Kidwell full circle.
For the third time, Kidwell will be faced with rebuilding a struggling program. Fostoria was 0-10 last season and have lost 20 straight games dating back to a 30-21 win over Rossford in Week 10 of the 2011 season.
“I welcome the challenge to rebuild. I think this will re-energize me as a coach,” Kidwell said.
“Fremont Ross was 1-19 the two years before I started there. The only difference this time is I’m from Fostoria and I’ve been a Redman.”
Kidwell knows he can’t rewrite history. But he does plan on tapping into it in a way, especially when it comes to his coaching staff.
“I want to bring back many of the former players to help with the program. I think that’s important,” Kidwell said.
“The kids can see those guys and say, we practice on the same field those guys practiced on, we play games on the same field those guys played on. Winning is possible because those guys proved they could do it.”
Kidwell plans to run the spread at Fostoria, an offense he has been successful with as a player and coach.
“It fits the kids we have”, Kidwell said.
“We’re undersized on the offensive and defensive lines. But Fostoria has always had great athletes and we still do. This is an offense that will allow those undersized kids to catch the ball in space and use their athletic ability.”
One way to put some meat on those bones, Kidwell says, is to put a few W’s in the books.
“The more wins you get, the hungrier you are,” he said.
“We have to keep kids interested in football and we have to keep them motivated academically. If we can do that as a coaching staff, as a school and as a community, if we have that support system, then I think we can turn things around pretty quick.”
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