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Hoover takes reins as Buckeye Local head football coach

HOOVER

CONNORVILLE — Jim Hoover spent the 2020 football season working as the defensive coordinator for Buckeye Local.

He saw, first hand, the progress that the Panthers made when they won three of their final four games.

When the head coaching job came open in December after Roger Herbert wasn’t retained by the Buckeye Local Board of Education, Hoover simply didn’t want to see what’s expected to be a senior-laden squad be forced to start entirely over again, so he applied.

And on Friday, at a board of education meeting, he was approved by a 5-0 vote as the 10th coach in the school’s history.

“I really expect the transition to be a smooth one,” Hoover said. “The kids all know me and I know them. They know what to expect from me just like I know what to expect from them. It would have been difficult to ask all of these kids to learn an entirely new offensive and defensive system.”

Hoover was complimentary of the job that Herbert did for the last several seasons in helping to begin the process of rebuilding the Panthers program. The two actually worked together during Hoover’s two-year stint as head coach at Union Local in 2003-04.

“I have a ton of respect for Roger,” Hoover said.

Hoover isn’t exactly a Buckeye Local product, but he’s well aware of the schools that helped to make up the current consolidation. Hoover graduated from Buckeye North in 1989 before going on to a four-year football career at Eastern Michigan.

“So many schools go into Buckeye Local that we all consider ourselves alums,” Hoover said. “Being able to be the head coach (at Buckeye Local) means a lot to me.”

The Panthers program, which has been won just five games in the past seven seasons, appears ready to break through. Basically, the entire roster, including second-team All-Ohioan Trey Hoover — Jim’s youngest son — at running back, linebacker and maybe even quarterback.

“The progress we made last season from weeks one to 10 was impressive,” Hoover said. “We want to be able to continue that success. I have told the kids we’re not in this for moral victories or keeping games close. We’re in it to win.”

For Hoover, that process has already started because even before being formally approved as the head coach, he has oversaw the Panthers’ offseason weight program, which amped up in December.

“I believe we’re ready to take the next step because of how well the kids have been buying into what we’re preaching,” Hoover said. “We have between 15 and 20 kids in the weight room four days a week. Buying into that aspect should carry over to the field in the fall.”

Hoover cut his coaching teeth at Edison where he spent one season before accepting a position on the staff at Martins Ferry, which is where he currently teaches and will continue to work. After the aforementioned two-year stint with the Jets, Hoover returned to serve on the Purple Riders staff from 2005 until 2018. He was out of coaching in 2019 before returning this season.

“I definitely had the itch (after that one season away),” Hoover said. “From the time I was seven years old until 2019, I was either a player or coach. The sport has consumed my life.”

Hoover plans to keep the defensive approach the same and he admits he will “add a few new wrinkles” to the offensive system. But, overall, the Panthers will be a team that plays “tough, hard-nosed football” like their coach learned during his prep days under his head coach, Rich Weiskircher.

As for his coaching staff, Hoover is already working on forming that.

Jim and his wife, Robyn, have been married for 26 years. The couple has three children: Hailee, who recently graduated from West Liberty University; Dalton, who will be playing football at Wheeling University this spring; and Trey, who will be a junior at Buckeye.

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