South Range tabs Rach as next head coach
David Rach knows the comparisons will always exist.
After all, following in the footsteps of a legend is never a simple task.
That’s especially true when you’re asked to take over a high school football program that is coming off of a state championship, which was guided by a hall-of-fame coach.
So, what does a rookie head coach do for an encore in 2023?
“Well, in my case I feel like I could coach for 50 years and win 1,000 games and I’ll never be able to fill the shoes of my predecessor,” Rach said. “In that regard, I don’t feel a lot of pressure because I know coming in that there’s only one king of South Range football.”
On Wednesday, Rach became the new leader of the South Range High football program when the district’s board of education hired him as the Raiders’ next head coach.
Rach takes over for Dan Yeagley, who retired after guiding the Raiders for 28 years.
While under his watch, Yeagley led South Range to a 248-75 record, which included three regional championships, three undefeated regular seasons, and 11 double-digit win seasons.
Last fall, South Range went 16-0 en route to a Division V state championship.
“I’ve known Coach Yeagley since I was in the third grade,” Rach said. “He’s always been a living legend and a role model. It sounds crazy but I don’t feel any pressure in trying to fill his shoes, because I know I can’t.
“For me, it’s the competitive challenge of maintaining the level of excellence we’ve had here for so many years. We’ve had a simple message of trying to make ourselves and our program two percent better than it was yesterday. That will continue to be our goal moving into the future.”
Rach moves into his new role with a strong understanding of the program. He is a 2007 South Range graduate, where as a senior he was a first-team All-Ohio selection and the Ohio Division V Defensive Co-Player of the Year.
Rach then went to Youngstown State University where he played three seasons as a linebacker from 2008-2010. He began his coaching career in 2012 as a freshman coach at Canfield under Mike Pavlansky. He returned to South Range in 2013, joining the varsity staff as a linebacker coach. He has served as the Raiders’ defensive coordinator since 2014.
“I’ve been a football nerd since I was in kindergarten,” Rach said. “Seriously, as long as I can remember I always knew that I wanted to be a coach. I was lucky in that my dad and uncles coached me early on, and I’ve been around great coaches who were also great men my whole life.
“It’s crazy to say, but even when I was in school playing the game I would have rather coached had I been given the choice.”
Rach inherits a program that has logged a 38-2 overall record over the past three seasons, including a 12-2 clip in the playoffs. South Range is riding a 30-game regular season winning streak.
“We lost 20 seniors, 10,000 yards of offense, and a hall-of-fame coach,” Rach said with a laugh. “Other than that, we’re okay.
“Seriously though, one thing I knew in taking this job was that Coach Yeagley would never leave the cupboard bare when he left this program. He left knowing that we have some good groups coming up through the ranks.”
Rach noted that South Range’s recent playoff success provided players with 14 extra weeks of practice over the past three years. A number of lopsided wins also provided underclassmen with valuable varsity playing time.
“Our seniors-to-be have played a ton of football in big spots, in that regard we’ll be in good shape,” Rach said. “I think it’s important for all of us players and coaches to take a step back, look at what worked last year and learn from that experience.
“We’ve enjoyed success in the past, but now we’re in uncharted territory. How do we handle the challenge of being a defending state champ? It’s a big challenge for teenagers to face.”
Rach then noted that the most important lesson he learned from Yeagley is that coaching is “about much more than wins and losses.”
“At the end of the day, our kids are our most precious asset,” Rach said. “This is about building relationships and building character beyond the football field. Everything we do is based on what is best for our kids.”
Rach will make his coaching debut on Aug. 18 when South Range opens its season at Springfield.