CRESTON Northwest head football coach Vic Whiting nervously will be prowling the sidelines at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium prior to Saturday’s 3 p.m. kickoff for the Division IV state football championship game.
Whiting’s Indians aren’t playing. But three of his former assistant coaches — Joe Harbour, Vinnie Sette and Jude LaChance — will be involved in the game of their lives when their Norwayne Bobcats meet unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Kenton.
“Those are my guys,” Whiting said of head coach Harbour and offensive coaches Sette and LaChance. “I’m pretty proud of them.”
Another Norwayne assistant, defensive coordinator Adam Indorf, played at Dalton High School and the University of Mount Union and was an assistant at St. Thomas Aquinas for two seasons.
Harbour is the guy steering the ship. In just his third year as the Bobcats’ lead man, he has taken them to the school’s first playoff appearances the past two seasons. They shared the Wayne County Athletic League title in 2011, and have won a school-record 13 games.
Now Harbour has the Bobcats in the school’s first-ever state title game in any sport.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Harbour, who left Northwest after five seasons as a line coach. “These kids are the one who deserve the credit. You know it’s something special what they’ve done.”
Harbour says he’s not the reason for the team’s mega success. He quickly notes his predecessor, Kevin Maltarich, laid the groundwork. The Norwayne youth football program and community involvement are factors, too, he said.
“I walked into a great situation,” he said, “and we’ve been able to keep it going. We just took it to the next level.”
Harbour credits Whiting and Indians assistants Gary Dial and John Tanksley, along with his college coach Bob Packard of Baldwin-Wallace, for preparing him to be a head coach.
“Vic has been a huge influence,” Harbour said. “We went to the playoffs every year, the Final Four once. I’ve always said it was a great school to coach at.”
And last but far from least, Harbour recognizes the part Sette, LaChance, Indorf, Bob Young and Jeff Daso have played as his assistants.
“I let them run with it,” Harbour said of the play-calling duties on both sides of the ball. “All I have is veto power. They’ve done a great job.”
LaChance, Whiting’s quarterbacks coach and a former Malone University defensive back, is the offensive coordinator. Yet he and Sette, a 2004 Northwest graduate, share the play-calling responsibilities.
Whatever they have dialed up has clicked this season. Norwayne has scored a school- and league-record 638 points, a 45.6 average.
“We think alike so much it’s not even funny,” Sette said of LaChance. “We just click together. Jude is just amazing. It’s like a chess match for us. We try and think ahead. But he sees everything, and beyond.”
“Jude did a fantastic job for me,” Whiting said. “He’s very offensively sharp. He works with the kids well. So does Vinnie. My kids really liked them.”
Indorf really likes them, too, especially coaching under Harbour. He was a defensive line coach at the College of Wooster before Harbour came calling.
“What I like is he allows us to handle the defensive calls, and we all work together,” Indorf said. “We try to develop the best strategy, but it’s still all about the kids.”
Whiting said how much he hated losing Sette, LaChance and Harbor off his staff. He didn’t like that they had to go.
“The levy was the problem,” Whiting said of the school’s failure to pass levies before doing so this year. “That’s why we lost them.”
Whiting and his current staff have been following Norwayne’s tournament run with interest. They will be there watching the Bobcats — clad in Northwest’s scarlet and gray — go for the big prize.
“We’ve been to their last three games as a staff,” he said. “We’re pretty hooked into them.
“Joe has done a great job of putting a coaching staff together — and using them in the right places.”
Updated: Friday, December 2, 2011