Even before he took his team to the championships and won the 2014 state title for the Lawrence Tigers, the Michigan High School Athletic Association recognized Cody Caswell as Coach of the Year for eight-man football. Caswell was a Vicksburg athlete (VHS ’00) whose former coach and mentor Jon Kach” Kachniewicz describes as a great kid and an inspired coach.
“He is a unique young man,” Coach Kachniewicz claims. Caswell was a track star while at Vicksburg; he played football, and upon graduation attended KVCC. While working his way through school he was volunteering to coach football and track in Vicksburg. “He’s good with kids, a student of coaching, very technical and caring,” Kach says. He has kept his Vicksburg connections and has lots of relatives in the community. His wife is the former Rochelle Ware, a ‘03 Vicksburg graduate. They have three children with the fourth expected in January.
His first job upon graduating WMU was in Lawrence in 2010 where his eleven man teams were getting beat by huge scores from the bigger schools in their conference such as Watervliet. Caswell could see the potential in the limited number of players he had, so asked the Lawrence school board to change to eight man. It was an uphill fight but once they made the change two years ago, success followed.
The kids bought into the program by spending hours in the weight room which Caswell opened at 7 a.m., telling the athletes they needed to separate themselves from others by getting stronger. They kept it all the way through basketball and track season. Then he added summer training sessions.
Technically, the field is the same length for eight man but the sides are shortened by about seven feet, lending itself to a faster game and higher scores. Caswell combined his tackles and guards and called them “gackles,” along with one skilled position to get down to the eight player limit.
Kach says it’s what Caswell is teaching the kids besides football that makes him successful. He is doing things the right way, he’s paid his dues, and the proof is in the great success his team achieved this year.
Another Vicksburg Grad is Coaching Football
A 1972 Vicksburg graduate, Dave Grohs, long-time assistant coach at Climax-Scotts, Coldwater, and other stops along the way, is taking a Tekonsha team in the right direction too, Kachniewicz point out. His team also competes at the eight man level, and Kash predicts that it won’t be long before Caswell and Grohs find themselves facing each other in playoff games. Grohs also paid his dues, volunteering to coach in Vicksburg, before he got his assignment in Climax-Scotts, where he was super successful under the tutelage of their most successful coach ever.