FRANKLIN GROVE – After 7 years in the broadcast booth on Friday nights, John Kutz is headed down to the sideline.
The former Dixon Duke and Dixon football radio play-by-play man was hired Monday to be the AFC Raiders' new head coach.
"Up in the booth, you've kind of got free will, and they always say it's easier to call the mistakes when you're broadcasting than when you're on the sidelines," Kutz said. "So it's going to be a bit of a challenge for me to translate from being a spectator to being the guy, but I think I can handle it."
Kutz spent a few years after high school coaching Pop Warner football, and 7 years as part of the baseball coaching staff at Newman Central Catholic in Sterling, first as the fresh/soph coach and later as the varsity assistant coach.
He steps in for Brad Winterland, who stepped down in April. The Raiders were 22-59 in 9 years under Winterland.
Getting up to speed with the Raiders with just weeks to go before practices begin is going to take a lot of hard work, he said.
"The first step is [Wednesday] I got my keys, got to see the facility, the new weight room at Ashton and set up a meeting to meet the kids, which I ended up doing on Friday," he said.
AFC's defense still will be under the direction of Ken Scott, who was Winterland's defensive coordinator. It was Scott's seal of approval, as well as a phone call to Sam Ramirez, the sports director at WIXN, that helped AFC Athletic Director Traci Gittleson pick Kutz for the job.
"Ken Scott calls me and tells me [Kutz] is a great guy and says, 'If he is on board, I'll stick around and mentor him,'" Gittleson said. "That was kind of the icing on the cake. I talked to John and felt he was very passionate and very excited, and I felt he would be a great choice for the football coach."
Scott will focus on defense, Kutz on offense. The Raiders will be implementing the Wing-T.
"I think that's a solid offense for a Class 1A school," Kutz said. "We'll have some wrinkles off of that if we can get the athletes to translate from the run game to spread it out to the passing game, but first I just want to get the Wing-T down, get our basic offense down and run it well.
"If you run it well, it's hard to stop."