By JAMIE BAKER
Carey High School didn’t have to look far for its next head football coach.
He was already in the building.
The school announced Wednesday that assistant coach Jonathon Mershman would take charge of the program after Todd Worst stepped aside last month.
Carey’s board of education is scheduled approve Mershman’s hiring at its next board meeting.
Worst coached the Blue Devils for 11 years. He posted an 80-36 overall mark and went 60-20 in conference play. He led the Blue Devils to a share of the Midland Athletic League title in 2009 and the overall crown in 2013, as well as four playoff appearances — 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011.
Mershman, a math teacher, has been an assistant under Worst during his entire coaching career at Carey.
“The first few years here I had some other opportunities to coach elsewhere but I really wanted to stick around Carey,” Mershman said on Wednesday.
“Actually, Todd and I talked about this for the last four or five years and he even asked me if I wanted to be a head coach some day. I told him yes. He asked if I wanted to stay at Carey. I said yes. He joked: So you want my job then?,” Mershman recounted.
“But I was only going to apply for the job when Todd felt comfortable stepping down, and the time was right.”
The time was right.
Mershman, the Blue Devils’ defensive coordinator last season, beat out several outside applicants for the football job, which drew considerable interest because of Carey’s reputation as a “football town.”
An Ottawa-Glandorf graduate, Mershman went on to play football at Bluffton University as a defensive back while earning a degree in education.
He was actually drawn to Carey at an early age.
“We had two midget football teams in Ottawa, the same as here, and when we played Carey we knew we were going to be in a game. That’s when I started learning about the football tradition here,” Mershman said. “I also knew (Carey athletic director) Kent Asher for a long time too.
“When I got here, it just felt right. I married a Carey girl and I have never felt like going anywhere else.”
With a transition from longtime coach Jim Draper to Worst, with a one-year stint by Todd Fugate in between in 2005, Draper’s Blue Devils of 1985 looked similar to Worst’s teams.
While Mershman is not totally letting the cat out of the bag, he hinted there will be some subtle changes on the field next fall.
“Oh, there will be some changes. Everyone better buy tickets for our first home game of the season next year in Week 2 against Colonel Crawford to see what we’re going to do. I want a packed house,” Mershman joked.
“If you’re looking for a double tight end, wishbone formation 90 percent of the time you aren’t going to see it. We’ll still be a running team but we’ll have some wrinkles thrown in here and there. We have hard-nosed, hard-working kids here at Carey and the core values of the program here will remain the same.”
“I’m excited and I want to bring the enthusiasm for football to a whole ‘nother level. There are so many things I’m excited about, but mostly, I’m just ready to get to work.”
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