QZ93 Sports

Rockwood coach leading what he helped start

In District 5, Football, Rockwood, Turkeyfoot Valley, WestPAC on June 29, 2009 at 6:56 pm

The journey has come full circle for 43-year-old Jerry Kaizen.

One of the early supporters of bringing football back to Rockwood Area High School, Kaizen was named the team’s varsity head coach earlier this summer.

Kaizen takes over after the departure of co-head coaches Adam Rullo and Jon Hale, who led the team for the past five years. Kaizen becomes the third head coach hired by a WestPAC team this summer, following Jim Fisher at Conemaugh Valley and Gene Boley at Shade.

The job at Ferndale remains open after Joe Arcurio resigned only a few weeks ago.

“There are new things coming,” said Kaizen, during an exclusive interview with QZ93 Sports Central. “A lot of times, you get a new coach with a fresh set of ideas. It’s exciting to see what the teams with new coaches are doing, and then you get to see the teams that are more established, and how they react to the changes.”

Hale left the Rockwood program when he was promoted to be the elementary school principal in the district and Rullo departed when he took the athletic director’s position. Rullo takes over for Misty Demchak, who is also the assistant principal at Rockwood. (Read more about Rullo and Hale here.)

“He’s had head coaching experience at the junior high level and we think that can carry over,” Hale said. “He has ties to different parts of the community that can benefit the football program and school. The kids have played for him before. It was a natural fit.”

Both Rullo and Hale felt the demands of the new job would make it difficult to give the proper attention to the role of head coach.

“It’s an honor to even have that opportunity (to coach at Rockwood),” said Kaizen, who holds an accounting degree from Penn State. “Jon and Adam are super guys and were really – and still are – dedicated to the program. I think this is a great opportunity and it’s exciting. If I’ve had a passion in life, football is it.”

Kaizen is certainly familiar with the Rockwood players, having been the junior high coach for the past six years, and he and his staff wasted little time getting to work. Kaizen will be assisted by Jim Wagner and Travis Robison. Also expecting to get spend time working with the junior high will be recent Rockwood stars Seth Foreman and Zach Sipe.

“We got to work right after the board made its decision,” said Kaizen, who played football at – and graduated from – Central of Martinsburg. “It was before school was out and gave me a chance to get a look at the guys, and we tried to find an offense to make us consistently competitive. Demographically, we’ll always be one of the underdogs. But we think we’ve found an offense that will match the kids and we’ve worked to get the kids developed.”

Kaizen kept a close wrap on his anticipated offensive style.

“We really believe that to be successful, given our size, we’ll have to get the football into space to spread and stretch the field better,” Kaizen said. “We’ll never be consistently successful running between the tackles. We’re hoping to put in place something to get the ball into space.”

Rullo, who served on the selection committee along with Hale and others, echoed Hale with high praise for Kaizen.

“He’s so passionate for the sport and will continue to build the program in the right direction,” Rullo said. “We felt that we have built a competitive program. We didn’t win as much as we wanted to, we wanted to win a championship, but overall we did a lot and Jerry will continue to go in the right direction. We’re really confident in him and he’ll do a great job. He’s got some great kids and great coaches under him.”

Kaizen expects to have his staff filled out in the coming weeks, with camp opening in August. The Rockets have a co-op with Turkeyfoot Valley that enters its second year.

“Any time you put a new system in, it’s something you’re anxious about” said Kaizen, who works at Rockwood Manufacturing. “You’re worrying if this will work, but you believe it will. I’m excited to get pads on these guys and get the reps going and get into the season to get the program to the next level.”

Kaizen has lived in the Rockwood area for 16 years with his wife, Karen. His daughter graduated this spring from Rockwood and plans to attend Waynesburg University in the fall. Kaizen’s son will be an eighth grader in the district this fall.

“I’m just real pleased by the support the boosters have given and the community has given,” Kaizen said. “The kids that have gotten excited about the sport are really dedicated in the weight room and on the field, and the hard work will really pay off for them.”

BY MATT JORDAN
matt@qz93sports.com

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  1. […] For the avid reader of this site (and we know that’s all of you!), you can recall that we broke the news to you about this hire in late May. We were also the first to give you a feature on Conemaugh Valley’s new coach, and broke the news of Rockwood’s new boss. […]

  2. […] the fourth new head coach in the WestPAC this season, following Jim Fisher at Conemaugh Valley, Jerry Kaizen at Rockwood and Gene Boley at […]

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