BELLAIRE - Stephen Andres has coached high-level high school football.
Schools like Cincinnati St. Xavier and Lakota East jump off the pages of his resume.
But, for Andres, there's something special about small-town high school football, which is what made applying for the Bellaire High School opening so appealing.
"High school football is the purest form of the game and no where is more pure than in small towns like (Bellaire)," Andres said. "I look around and I see the pride and enthusiasm that people have for football."
Those factors ultimately led to Andres, who has spent the last five years working on the defensive side of the ball with the St. Xavier Bombers, to contact Bellaire High Athletic Director Molly Feller about the position.
"How deep the pride and passion for this school, town and football are ingrained in people really impressed me," Andres said. "Football purists, like me around Ohio, know about Bellaire and its tradition."
After more than a month-long search and interview process, Bellaire's Board of Education formally hired Andres as its new head football coach during a special meeting Tuesday morning.
Shortly after the meeting, Andres got to work. He met with some possible members of his coaching staff during the afternoon and then met with his future players.
"I've been to two basketball games and I've been here four or five times," Andres said. "I've seen some of the kids, and I am seeing what I expected, which is a bunch of tough, blue-collar kids. Valley tough kids, and I think I can accentuate that and play to our strengths."
Andres is taking over for Jose Davis, who stepped down after five years at the helm of his alma mater. He guided the Big Reds to the OHSAA postseason both in 2012 and 2013 and also the OVAC Class 3A title and a piece of the Buckeye 8 title last season.
"They've played 108 years of football here and there's been a heck of a lot of success," Andres said. "There's a long line of great coaches and players, obviously. I just want to add to that and try to put a team out there that can be the best it can be for this community. And I can't wait to roll up my sleeves and get to work."
Andres, 42, is a 1989 graduate of Linden McKinley High School in Columbus where he played football, wrestled and ran track.
He then headed to Cincinnati and was a four-year starter at College of Mt. St. Joseph, earning a degree in physical education and health education.
From there, he began his coaching career and earned his master's degree from the University of Cincinnati. He's worked at Goshen as well as the two aforementioned Division I schools.
"I've been an assistant for 18 years, so it was like it if not now (to become a head coach), then when?," Andres said.
"The challenge of it excites me. Plus, I think I can make an impact on these kids. When these kids buy into this program, it's a chance for them to work and learn things that help them to better their lives in the future. I think once everyone gets to know me, they'll buy in. I want these kids to get the best experience (out of football) as they get in their young lives. I care about these kids becoming better players, students and people."
The majority of Andres' coaching background comes on the defensive side of the ball. He was the defensive coordinator at Lakota East for two seasons and worked with the linebackers, special teams and defensive line at St. Xavier.
Along with coaching football, Andres has experience coaching track, directing camps and fundraising.
As for what Andres expects in the 2014 season, he wasn't going to begin to guess a record or anything of the sort.
"I want to see kids running around, having a good time with their buddies, while playing as hard as they can and hopefully affording us an opportunity to win every game," Andres said.
"I have very high expectations and a vision for where this is heading. A former coach of mine told me once 'shoot for the moon, and on the way down, catch a couple of stars.' That's what were going to do, and we're going to work hard at it."
Andres' approach to the game won't change from what he did at his previous coaching stops, but he realizes there's a level of relativity because of the roster size, players' skill levels and other factors.
"Everything is scaled," Andres said. "We had 350 kids in the program at St. Xavier, and here, we'll have 75 to 80 when it's all said and done.
"The way we practice will change a little bit because more kids will be going two ways here, but we will follow the same type of structure and sytem that we used at St. X, that I learned from Coach (Steve) Spect. Schematically, it'll be similar."
Andres will also be teaching at Bellaire High School, starting in the fall.
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