Andre Dobson made a career of starting football programs from scratch in Christian high schools. So if he seems overly confident about accelerating Greenwood Christian’s previously proposed schedule, it’s because he’s done so before.
With nearly two decades of experience to his credit, Dobson was unveiled Thursday afternoon as the first football coach in GCA history.
Greenwood Christian set up an exploratory committee last May to study the possibility of adding football. At the time, athletic director Devin Gray had proposed a tentative schedule that would have included a condensed schedule of mostly junior varsity opponents in 2022.
More recently, Gray had left open the possibility of starting with an eight-man team, something that a number of smaller Indiana high schools are introducing this fall as a possible bridge to full 11-on-11 action.
On Thursday, Dobson made it clear that he has bigger intentions.
“We’re definitely behind the 8-man in everything, but our plan is to play with 11-man in this very first season,” he said. “We’re going to dive right in. We’re really looking forward to that. I did that at a previous school and we’ve seen a lot of success because of it. There is a tremendous amount of work behind it, but we are happy to be able to offer 11-man football.
The hope, Dobson says, is to fill out at least one eight-game plan, preferably all of those games against other varsity opponents. He’ll accept some JV games if needed, but having already done some research, he believes “there are enough (Class A) teams looking for games that we might be able to,” a to get a full university board.
Dobson learned about the job from his brother-in-law, whose family lives in Mooresville. Interest in being closer to family — his daughter Mya will be a college freshman in Missouri — and escaping the rising cost of living in Florida made a move north more appealing.
Additionally, building the Cougars from the ground up is a challenge he feels equipped to take on.
“My whole career has been starting programs or building new programs,” he said, “so I’m really excited to get there. I think with the move to the new campus there’s a lot of energy and excitement about what’s going on with the school, and as a school grows and tries to improve, adding sports is always a good thing – and those Opportunity to add Football is definitely one of the great sports to build the culture that you want to build.”
Dobson isn’t quite sure yet what kind of numbers he’ll have on the list – he’ll be hosting a meetup for interested players and their parents on May 31 – but he was heartened by what he saw while attending GCA previously attended the interview process.
(His son Trey will be a freshman in the fall, so at least one roster slot is already filled.)
“We reached out to the students and tried to estimate where our numbers are going to be,” Dobson said. “There are a lot of eighth graders who want to step up and be there. I am bringing a son with me so there is one more. When I went upstairs to my interview and saw the kids running around, there are definitely some good looking kids on campus.”
One thing Greenwood Christian won’t have in time for this inaugural season is a home field; Gray says having an on-campus facility at some point is a long-term goal, but there are no specific plans. Renting a nearby field to host a few games each season remains an option, but if the team has to play all of their games on the road to begin with, so be it.
Despite this obstacle, Dobson is full of optimism about the future of football at GCA.
“I’m thrilled with the school’s location compared to other private schools that offer football,” he said. “I think it’s definitely something that’s needed in the immediate area.”