Matt Johnson has been named as the head football coach at Rudyard High School.
Johnson has worked with the Bulldogs as a line coach and defensive coordinator for the last three years under Pat Maloney, who resigned his position last week.
"It was a last minute thing," Johnson said. "Pat's a friend of mine and always will be, and I just wanted to try and set the kids up for the most success that we can have."
Maloney was 49-55 in 10 years as the Bulldogs coach with three trips to the playoffs. The Bulldogs finished last season 7-4, falling to conference foe St. Ignace 55-22 in the district final. The Bulldogs lost a number of players from that team.
"I'm more concerned about building a long-term program. We have a long-term plan for recruiting athletes in the school for football, having a year-round weightlifting plan, and getting a staff together."
Johnson, a graduate of Norway High School and Northern Michigan University, teaches social studies at Pickford High School. Fellow Norway and NMU grad Nick Zweifel will join Johnson on the staff with the rest of the coaching staff to be rounded out as soon as possible.
Before joining the Rudyard staff, Johnson coached at Norway, Iron Mountain, Gwinn and downstate Mason. He doesn't have long to prepare for his first practice as a head coach, which begins Monday at 9 a.m.
"It's a daily thing, year-round," Johnson said. "It means during the school year might mean waking up a 6 in the morning. Going to the basketball games, going to the wrestling matches, going to the baseball games to show the kids you support them. Our goal to outwork every team we play. You can't do anything about size and speed, but you can control your effort."
The Bulldogs join the Ski Valley North Division this season along with Pickford and former Straits Area Conference teams Rogers City and St. Ignace. They open the season on Aug. 24 at Newberry.