Football: Kirk Kennedy takes over as North Judson coach
By Mike Hutton firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-0141 May 7, 2013 11:28PM
Lowell head coach Kirk Kennedy reacts after a first down was called for Evansville Reitz in the fourth quarter of the Red Devils' state final loss at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis November 28, 2009. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 9, 2013 6:46AM
Kirk Kennedy looks at North Judson and he sees Lowell, in bits and pieces: A smallish, rural town with a sense of community that has the potential to be devoted to the Friday night football ritual.
And one that will readily accept the power running game that he honed to perfection while coaching the Red Devils.
Those qualities and the fact that he is back home — at least fairly close to his original football home — made Kennedy feel real comfortable about returning back to Northwest Indiana to coach again.
On Tuesday, Kennedy, who left three seasons ago for Bloomington South, was named the Bluejays head coach.
Getting the new job ended a tumultuous three-year run for Kennedy, who broke some hearts when he left Lowell after finishing 161-70 in 19 seasons for Bloomington South. That included a state title in 2005 and finishing as runner-up in 2009.
His three-year stint at South turned out to be rocky. He finished 4-26 in three seasons and he resigned at the end of this past season.
“I guess I’ll start at the beginning and say I was disappointed with the way things ended up in Bloomington,” he said. “One important aspect of dealing with people and kids is you can’t put your finger on chemistry. For whatever reasons, it wasn’t a good fit.”
The process of actually finding a job turned out to be more arduous for Kennedy than he anticipated.
Gary Cox, the Bluejays head coach, resigned after the first of the year but North Judson just got serious about hiring Kennedy a few weeks ago.
The Bluejays’ big issue revolved around finding an opening for him — something they couldn’t nail down until the last month. Kennedy, who initially left South to become the director of football operations, will be on staff as a physical education teacher.
Kennedy said it was “like banging your head against a wall” trying to figure out which schools would be able to make competitive offers because of the dire financial situation that education is mired in in the state.
North Judson has the kind of tradition that Kennedy can try to rekindle. The Bluejays were state runners-up in 1980, 1984 and 1986 under another former region coach — Russ Radtke.
They have a wishbone history, though Kennedy said they had drifted toward the spread offense lately.
He is looking forward to instilling a bruising running game and working hard to be extraordinary at doing “the ordinary” things better than their opponents.
Kennedy expects to move to North Judson after the school year ends.