By Steve ruman
After serving as an assistant for 22 years, Doug Velasquez felt the time was right to make a program his own.
Weathersfield superintendent Damon Dohar and the Weathersfield Board of Education agreed, and as a result Velasquez is the new football coach at Mineral Ridge High School.
Velasquez on Thursday was hired as the Rams’ coach. The recommendation, made by Dohar, was approved by the Weathersfield board of education at its monthly meeting. He replaces Joe Stevens, who chose not to reapply following a 6-4 season.
Velasquez was one of 18 applicants considered by an eight-man committee. The committee eventually narrowed its search down to three candidates, who were interviewed by Dohar. Other finalists were Jim Parry and Kris Reash.
Parry was the head coach at Mathews for seven years, guiding the Mustangs to three conference titles and two playoff appearances. He most recently served as an assistant coach at LaBrae. Reash has been an assistant at several schools, most recently at Columbiana.
“It basically came down to which of the three I felt was the best fit for our school, for our program,” Dohar said. “Doug has paid his dues, and it just seemed like this was meant to be.”
Velasquez is a 1989 graduate of Boardman High School, where he played under Bill Bohren. He was part of a Spartans team which played in the Division I state title game. He began his coaching career as a student assistant at Moorhead State. At the time, the school’s defensive coordinator was current New York Jets coach Rex Ryan.
Velasquez then moved on to Tennessee State, where he hooked up with current Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
“The Ryan brothers were good to me,” Velasquez said. “They taught me a great deal about football and about the coach / player relationship. They were passionate about the profession, and that’s something I always maintained.”
Velasquez also coached a year at Phoenix Junior College, then returned to the area. He has been an assistant at Beaver Local, Boardman, Ursuline, Springfield Local, Salem and Struthers. He works in the Weathersfield School District as a Special Education aide.
Mineral Ridge finished strong in 2012, winning six of its last eight games, including its final three.