WATERLOO – Every offseason Seth Wilcox pulls out his program manual.

In it, he jots down what went well the previous football season, as well as what didn’t go so well. Wilcox, 31, has been an assistant coach at the varsity level for 11 years, so it’s filled with quite a bit of stuff.

What’s this program manual for?

It’s to be used when the right head coaching job came open.

So when former DeKalb head coach Pete Kempf told him he wouldn’t be returning for the 2020 season, Wilcox was prepared.

“When Pete had that conversation with me, I had a lot of stuff that I had worked on throughout the years, prepping to be a head coach,” Wilcox said.

It’s always ready to go in case the right place came open. There were very few times he actually used it. He was just waiting for the right place.

“Nothing felt right until this one,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox, a 2007 DeKalb graduate, was the Barons’ defensive coordinator for the last three years. He was on the other side of the county at Eastside before coming to Waterloo.

“I think it’s always a little easier when you take your first step into being a head coach when you’re at a program that you’ve already been a part of and you know the community, you know the parents and you know the players already,” Wilcox said.

He’s taking over for Kempf, who took a winless team in 2013 to an eight-win Northeast 8 contender last year, the most wins the program’s had in a season since 2002.

“Pete did a lot of really good things. When you look at the football program from when Pete started to where it was last year, Pete’s done a lot of amazing things with the football program,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox highlighted multiple times the culture that Kempf built over the last six years. That’s something he largely wants to keep intact.

“Pete built a really good culture. He was all about family, turning the program into a family atmosphere, preaching brotherhood and getting guys to work together as a united front on the football field,” Wilcox said. “I think a lot of that has to continue with some of Pete’s policies of making it family atmosphere and keeping people involved. There are going to be some minor tweaks along the way.”

Tweaks will be made because of two current hurdles in the program’s way.

Leo and East Noble.

The Barons haven’t beaten the Knights since 2007 and are still searching for their first win over the Lions.

Wilcox wants to take the program from just being in the conversation of winning the NE8 to actually taking the conference crown.

He wants to continue to build up the discipline, bring in coaches that are all about the players and develop a growth mindset within the program.

“I’m somebody who always has high expectations for myself. I expect to do well, and I think the big part of the success we have going forward is in the assistant coaches. I’ve had a lot of conversations with those assistant coaches the past few days. It sounds like a lot of them are on board,” Wilcox said.

DeKalb football has been on an upward trend the last few seasons, and it’s up to Wilcox to keep that trend going.

But don’t worry, he’s been prepared and ready to go to work.

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