Nodaway Valley football hired Duane Matthess April 24, their third head coach in as many seasons. The hiring, coming much sooner in the off season than the last two hires, leaves Matthess hopeful for his future with NV football as the season approaches.
Matthess' move from Osceola's Clarke High School to Greenfield was not a hard one, but also not an easy one. Underlying factors played into the decision to move to Greenfield, with community response to Nodaway Valley's athletics, along with the talent and winning history each being a factor.
"When you look at any school, and making a jump, ... you take a look at athletic programs as a whole," said Matthess. "I think when you look at their basketball programs, their track programs, they have shown they are more than able to compete. ... I think the other programs and kids are not foreign to winning. My hope is that can translate to football as well."
Matthess added his excitement to work alongside storied NV coach Darrell Burmeister and former Clarke basketball coach James Larson, both of whom work with players during football's off season. A big factor for Matthess when considering the position was the talent returning for 2020.
When Matthess was at Clarke last season, the Wolverines beat the Indians 40-21. The game played on NV's home field, and was a 4-point contest at the half before the Wolverines extended the lead for the win.
Looking at the game film from that game, along with others, it was apparent the talent was there for Matthess, creating an enticing position.
"One of the things that was appealing to take this position was the talent they have," said Matthess. "... A majority of the skill players a coming back, and the kind of endless potential is there with this team. If we could find some of the right pieces to the puzzle to fill holes that we're missing."
Notable players Matthess mentioned were Tony Ayase, a do-it-all type running back for NV and young quarterback Nathan Russell, who was ushered into Flynn Heald's air-raid offense as just a freshman.
"I think Tony Ayase is one of the leading running backs in the district coming back. ... Nathan Russell, who threw for almost 2,000 yards last season is certainly (someone I'm) very excited to work with," said Matthess. "... Newly hired within the last few weeks here, we've kind of hit the ground running."
Matthess ran a unique style of offense called the "single wing" at Clarke, and with new personnel, the cat isn't quite out of the bag on how the playbook will be organized.
"Time will tell. I'm not going to give anything away yet, but I think I would be pretty foolish to take a talent like Nate and say that I'm not going to put the ball in his hands," said Matthess. "... I think it's a safe bet the single wing will not be making a full fledged appearance at Nodaway Valley. However, there are some staples to that offense I think we can find ways to incorporate."
With the potential for COVID-19 wiping out the summer sports season lingering, the football preseason could potentially take a hit for summer workouts. Matthess is hopeful this doesn't play into his team's season so the players can get back to work and prepare for a winning season.
"So much is up in the air right now, ... I've heard some sportswriters think the chances are very good we have a baseball and softball season, some don't think it's going to happen, so it's kind of a holding pattern," said Matthess. "If we don't have summer sports, we're not having summer work outs for football. That's certainly going to make things a little more challenging. ... My one silver lining is that if we don't have baseball, we're going to have a group of guys that are going to be pretty hungry to get going."
As for the schedule, Matthess shared the team's excitement to play a few teams, including Mount Ayr – who the Wolverines have not beaten since 2007. Clarke is not on the schedule for NV this season.