NORTH EAST — Rising Sun has a new football coach.
Clem Vaughan, who previously coached the Tigers for nine seasons from 2004-2012, has been hired to once again take over the football program, Rising Sun athletic director Ryan Crouse announced Wednesday.
“I’m real excited. I wouldn’t have done it if I wasn’t,” Vaughan said. “It’s been in the back of my mind, on and off, all year. [Former coach] Rich [Opp] had mentioned to me a while ago that this could be it, so that intrigued me a little bit. I started thinking about it, and what things would be like at home, and if I could manage my time.
“I let things settle down a little bit and then I started talking to administration about getting things together.”
Vaughan, who teaches math at the school, replaces Opp, who stepped down last month as head coach after five seasons on the sideline.
“We’re really excited for the program. I’m really excited for him to be back and to work alongside him in a head football coach capacity,” Crouse said. “You like to fill that position in-house, and if you can’t fill it in-house, then you open it up to people who have shown interest. We were kind of waiting for Clem to make the decision, and if he didn’t want it, then we would look outside of the school. We’re very happy that he decided to go ahead and hop aboard.”
Vaughan, who was replaced by Opp in 2013, amassed a 47-45 record during his initial stint with the Tigers, including earning playoff berths in three straight years from 2004-06.
Vaughan’s best season was 2006, when Rising Sun, led by two-time Offensive Player of the Year Steve Bauguess, won nine games, including a victory in the opening round of the 1A East Region Tournament.
“It’s been a little bit of a process. I took for granted when I did it for nine years. Now, I’m thinking back ... I had people in place and it was just like riding a bike. Now it’s kind of like, OK, I have to get back on this bike and start riding it again,” Vaughan said. “I’m just excited to get things rolling again. We have a good bunch of kids at Rising Sun High School and I look forward to working with them.”
Vaughan is currently helping out with one of the school’s basketball teams, but intends to build his coaching staff and establish an offseason program by the New Year.
“I’m super pumped to have him. It’s a guy that’s in the building, and that’s an important position to have in the building because football is such an important part of the school culture here. To have him in the building to take care of the things he needs to take care of is huge,” Crouse said. “He’s a great guy. He has a ton of relationships in the community. He knows the kids real well, he knows the game of football. Anyone that we’ve talked to who’s coached against Clem had great things to say. Even during the seasons when we didn’t have the greatest record, they were always well disciplined, they were always well coached.”
Opp announced his departure following the team’s season finale. The Tigers, who went 1-9 this year, have won just three games over the past two seasons since enjoying a winning record in 2015.
“Coach Opp did great things for this program so I don’t want him to feel like he wasn’t successful because I feel like he was. He did a lot of good things here, he initiated a lot of change that needed to happen to the football program,” Crouse said. “I think if you take some of the things that Opp put in place and you bring Clem back to bring back some of the traditions he had prior to, I think you have a good winning combo.”
Follow Jordan Schatz on Twitter: @Jordan_Whig