Zebb Schroeder came back home Jan. 6 when he was named coach of the Olentangy Orange High School football team.
Schroeder, who led Delaware the past three years, spent his first 10 seasons in coaching as an assistant in the Olentangy school district. He spent two seasons at Olentangy and eight at Liberty before going to Delaware.
“I live in the Orange (area) and I coached here (in the district) for a long time,” Schroeder said. “From day one, we’ll be making decisions that not only will have an impact on the high school players, but also the middle school and elementary programs. I want to be here for a long time.”
Athletics director John Betz said the school received 103 applications for the position and that number was narrowed to seven before Schroeder was chosen.
“Zebb not only was the best fit, but he had the right vision,” Betz said. “The vision might have been the most important part. It’s not only what he brings, but where he wants the program to be five years from now.”
Schroeder was 11-19 overall and 7-14 in the OCC-Capital Division at Delaware. Last season, the Pacers finished 5-5 overall and fifth (3-4) in the league behind champion Worthington Kilbourne (7-0).
“I think the biggest thing I learned at Delaware was the importance of getting everyone on the same page,” said Schroeder, whose teams went 1-2 against Orange, winning 17-14 last season. “Building relationships with players and parents is important, as well as the assistants building those same relationships because we’re all in it together.
“Leadership in the 21st century is not always from the top down. You have to empower your assistants and some of your players into leadership roles.”
Schroeder replaces Brian Cross, who was 33-30 in six seasons at Orange and 218-126 in 31 seasons as a head coach. Under Cross, the Pioneers won OCC-Capital titles in 2009 and 2011 and qualified for the playoffs those seasons.
Last fall, Orange finished 1-9 overall and seventh (1-6) in the league.
“When I watch tape of Orange from last season, I didn’t see the kids not competing,” said Schroeder, a graduate of Archbold High School and Adrian (Mich.) College. “They had injuries and they were really young. Under tough circumstances like that, the kids kept battling week in and week out.
“We want to work on developing good students, good athletes and good teammates. We need to work year-round to be football players and athletes, which means we have to go in and have a great offseason. We need to get started for next season.”