BRADFORD — When the head football coaching position opened up at Bradford, there were 34 candidates for the job.
When the process was complete, a person well known in Darke and Shelby counties had been hired to continue the process of bringing the Railroader football program back.
Dave McFeely, known more for his girls basketball coaching in recent memory, moves up from an assistant’s position last season to the head football post for next year. It marks the fifth time McFeely has been named a head football coach. He had previous stops at Lehman Catholic, Parkway, Columbus Wehrle and Columbiana Crestview in eastern Ohio, where he is from.
He also coached the Fort Loramie girls basketball team to a state runner-up finish back in 1997 and served as Greenville’s girls basketball coach.
“I coached both football and girls basketball as an assistant at Bradford last year,” McFeely said. “I don’t want to say I was Coach (Nathan) Hyatt’s right-hand man, but I was the only one who had coaching experience.”
Hyatt left Bradford to become the head coach at Vandalia-Butler next season.
“When he left, the kids were devastated,” McFeely said. “And a lot of them were talking about not playing next year. Then about four or five of them came up and said ‘why don’t you be our new coach?’
“I went in and talked to (Superintendent) Ken Miller, and told him I would be interested in being on the committee to select the new coach, and he said that would be good,” McFeely went on. “Then he said ‘why don’t you apply?’ And I told him because my wife would kill me. But when I told her, she was very supportive. I turned in my resume and they had 34 applicants, but most of them needed teaching openings, and we didn’t have any. It’s just so small. Over half our student body goes to the JVS.”
The Railroaders finished with a 4-6 record, which McFeely and many others considered quite an accomplishment considering the school had to cancel the football season two years ago.
“Coach Hyatt did a great job here. That was a great record for us, and we’re hoping to build on what we did last year,” McFeely said. “I think we have a good nucleus coming back, and I will meet with the kids on Monday. And I’ll be keeping the same coaching staff as last season. Unfortunately, in the last game of the season, we played Danville, who was ranked No. 1 in the state. So that’s the last taste we have.”
When Bradford had to drop football two years ago, the Cross County Conference had to take certain measures. Bradford was not in the league in football last year and won’t be this season either. That translates to a lot of travel.
“We will still be independent,” McFeely said. “We’ll be back in the CCC in 2017, at least that’s what the plan is. And that’s the same year Fort Loramie is coming into the league (football only). We’re hoping to get back in there because right now the travel is just crazy. We’ll be making a return trip to Danville next season, and that’s a three-hour bus ride.”
Prior to last year at Bradford, McFeely hadn’t coached football since 2010 as an assistant at New Bremen.