The Big Walnut High School football program has developed into one of the best in Division III since Scott Wetzel was hired as coach in 1998.

Not only has Big Walnut posted a winning record in all 11 seasons under Wetzel, but it has qualified for the playoffs six times, including this season. Last year, the Golden Eagles captured the program's first state championship, beating Licking Valley 17-10 to finish 14-1.

Big Walnut also has captured six OCC-Capital Division championships under Wetzel, including the outright title this season.

Entering this season's playoffs, Wetzel was 97-26 record at Big Walnut. He also was the coach at Buckeye Valley from 1992-96, going 31-19. He spent the 1997 season as an assistant at Dublin Scioto.

High School/ Graduation year: Marion River Valley/1982
College/Graduation year: Muskingum/1986

Q: Tell us about your family.
A: My wife, Tami, and I have been married 20 years. We have a son, Ethan, who's 18 and plays football at Ashland University. My daughter, Emilie, is a sophomore at Big Walnut and she plays volleyball, and my daughter, Erin, is a seventh-grader and she's a cheerleader, so our falls are very busy. It seems like I'm always going to a game, but I miss a lot of games, too. That's the bad part about being a football coach. But our kids understand and we get through it. And mom becomes kind of mom and dad, so I tip my hat to her because she has double duty, it seems like, during the fall. She handles it real well.

Q: Tell us about your day job.
A: I teach physical education at Big Walnut High School. I like it because I work with freshmen and sophomores. It's a fun job to have.

Q: How did you get your start in coaching?
A: I just always loved football and I wanted to get into education and kind of give back because I thought my teachers and coaches were the biggest influences in my life. I was very lucky because I started my coaching as an assistant at Carey High School and Carey had won state titles before and I worked with fantastic coaches there. Then I went to (Marion) Pleasant High School as an assistant and Pleasant has won state titles and I coached with Chris Kubbs. Then I was the head coach at Buckeye Valley, but then I was an assistant at Scioto with (current Hilliard Davidson coach) Brian White. So the three coaches that I was an assistant for have all won state titles. I guess I've been at the right place at the right time. The years I was an assistant coach, I was with some fantastic head coaches who taught me a lot about football.

Q: Who was your biggest influence in coaching?
A: Probably one of the biggest influences - and I've never coached for him - is (former DeSales and current Hamilton Township coach) Bob Jacoby. I coached with Brian White and Brian coached for Bob and Brian does a lot of things that Bob does. That one year I coached with Brian White was a fantastic year. I had been a head coach for five years and then I went back as an assistant and I kind of re-learned the game a little bit. We actually spent some time with Bob, also, and he's just a class act and a great, great football coach. He does the little things right. I stole a lot from Bob and Brian and Chris Kubbs and (Carey coach) Jim Draper. In fact, I have a quote on our scouting report (forms) that I think I stole from Bob. I've never had my own thought. The quote is, "Show class, have pride and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself." I'm sure that's something I got from Brian or Bob because I'm not smart enough to think of something like that.

Q: How has your life changed since winning the state championship?
A: I've tried to not let it change at all. It was an incredible experience to share with my son and his friends because I've known them for so long, but the reason I got into coaching was not to win a state title. For example, I was at Sunbury's Fourth of July fireworks and I saw some kids that I coached who have graduated and gone on to become productive kids in our society. They're quality people, and I kind of step back and think, "I was a very small part of their lives." That's what I get a kick out of more than anything else. Don't get me wrong, winning the state title was fantastic. But when I get out of (coaching), I don't think that will be the No. 1 thing that happened to me as a coach.

Q: Who is the best player you've coached?
A: That's probably a toss up between (2000 graduate) Robby Stover, who was a running back, quarterback and defensive back and played at Ohio University, and (linebacker and tight end) Will Studlien. Those are the two that really stand out, but we've had a lot of good ones come through here and made my job easy.

Q: Who is the best player you've coached against?
A: (Former Marysville linebacker) Chase Blackburn, who's now with the New York Giants. I was so glad to see that kid graduate, let me tell you. He started three or four years, but it seemed like he started eight years. After he graduated, we started beating Marysville. We couldn't beat them until he graduated.

Q: Which is the best team you've coached?
A: I could say the state championship team, of course, but (in 1998) we went 6-4. That team didn't have much talent, but the kids just busted their butts and gave everything they had. That was a fun team to coach. But all of the teams I've coached have been different and special in their own way.

Q: Which is the best team you've coached against?
A: I would say the Marysville teams that Blackburn was on. (Former Marysville coach) Rich Weiskircher had a nice run over there for about four or five years. He had some pretty doggone good teams. They were blue-collar, tough, nasty teams. They were tough to play against.

Q: If you could change any rule in the high-school game, what would it be?
A: I would say offensive pass interference. I mean, 15 yards and a loss of down, that's a death penalty. Either shorten the yardage on it or let teams replay the down. Just because your receiver is bumping a little bit doesn't mean it should be 15 yards and a loss of down.