Gary Native Excited About Challenge
In what is certainly a stunning turn of events, the Region Sports Network has learned that former Andrean, Clark and South Central Head Coach Jeff Karras, a Gary native, will be named the head coach of the school’s struggling football program in a press conference this afternoon.
Karras will take the reins from former head coach Eric Yarbrough, who was expected to be informed of the decision in a meeting prior to this afternoon’s press conference.
It is unclear at this point what prompted the change, but it appears that the new administration at Roosevelt desired a fresh start for the program.
Roosevelt has been taken over this year by EdisonLearning, chosen by the Indiana State Board of Education last August to turn the struggling school around after five consecutive years on academic probation.
And the Panthers’ struggles in the classroom have been mirrored on the gridiron as well, as Roosevelt has won just five games over the last five seasons, including a winless 0-8 campaign in 2008.
In fact, Roosevelt has not had a winning season since 1987 and has finished .500 just one other time in that time frame, a 5-5 campaign in 2007 under Kennedy Hannah. Yarbrough was 5-21 during his three year tenure at the school.
Karras, who resides in Miller Beach, was surprised when Roosevelt called on Tuesday, the second day of two-a-days, but quickly became excited about the prospect of resurrecting Roosevelt football.
“I had no plans to coach football this year,” said Karras. “But when I got the call from my hometown, and I consider myself a Gary guy, I thought why not? Maybe this is where I’m supposed to be. I’m excited about the prospect of bringing a struggling program back to respectability.”
Karras served as defensive coordinator last season at Michigan City. Prior to that Karras’ coaching career has included stops at Andrean, Clark, Rich South (IL) and South Central on the high school level and Rose Hulman and Concordia College on the college level.
“The goal has always been winning a state title and that will never change,” said Karras. “And our goal here at Roosevelt will be the same.”
“I have won where ever I have been and I don’t see any reason why we can’t win here at Roosevelt. And a winning season is attainable this year and that will be our goal in the short term.”
Karras was 25-12 in three seasons after succeeding his brother Ted as the head coach at Andrean, and led the 59’ers to the 3A state championship game in 2001, where Andrean lost a 3-0 decision to Indianapolis Chatard.
Karras spent the 2002 season as the head coach at Clark, notching a 4-6 mark for the season before moving on to the college ranks, once again as an assistant to brother Ted.
In 2010, after a number of seasons as the defensive coordinator at Rich South, Karras returned as the head coach at South Central, where he led the Satellites to a 10-3 record and the school’s first ever sectional title.
For his career as a head coach, Karras has amassed a 39-21 record, winning two sectional titles along with one regional and one semi-state crown.
Even before today’s press conference, Karras was busy trying to put together a staff for the upcoming season, a difficult task with practice for the upcoming campaign already well underway all across the state.
“I’m not smart enough to take all the credit for the success I have had (as a head coach)”, said Karras. “I have always surrounded myself with quality people who know football and putting a quality staff together is my number one priority right now. I hope to have a staff put together by tonight.”
A lack of continuity and low numbers have been among the maladies that have plagued Roosevelt football in recent years and may have been one of the factors in Yarbrough’s demise and once he has a staff assembled, Karras plans to address the numbers issue.
“I’m just going to put it out there to the players that I am a players coach and a Gary guy” said Karras. “I can’t recruit the halls yet because school is not in session but I’m going to tell the guys that are here to bring out their friends.”
“The kids are going to have to forget what has happened here in the past and just put their trust in me,” continued Karras. “Because I am excited to be here, and we will get it done.”