West Frankfort, Ill. - The Morthland College Athletic Department has named Steve Rhoads its newest head football coach for the upcoming 2017-18 school year.
Rhoads, who recently completed his second season with the football program, has played an integral part in the conception and growth of the team since it's beginning in the fall of 2015.
Before his tenure under previous head coach Mike Popovich, Rhoads served under the original coach, Mike Rude, who began the program at Morthland.
In the 2016 season, Rhoads was the Associate Head Coach and Running Backs Coach, aiding the Patriots to their 7-3 finish to mark a historical first year as a varsity program.
Rhoads' time at Morthland details beyond the gridiron though. Currently, the Coleman Rhoads building on campus houses the library, bookstore, financial aid, admissions, athletics offices, a weight room, training room and student lounge. This building was previously owned and used by a furniture company ran by Rhoads and his associate Brent Coleman.
3 years ago, Rhoads and Coleman decided to close up shop and the conclusion was made to dontate the building to the up-and-coming Morthland College.
Due to his significant donation, the College eagerly asked for Rhoads to serve as its Vice President of Development after serving a seat on the board.
Since then, Rhoads has asked to focus more of his attention on the Patriot football program, and now he has a chance to stamp his name in its history books.
"Putting Coach Rhoads at the helm of this program makes a tremendous amount of sense," said Athletic Director Reid Cure. "His significant role in the history of the College only parallels his football accumen and experience."
Prior to his time at MC, Rhoads spent 25 years as a football official including nine years at the NCAA Division-I level. During that time he officiated the 1996 NCAA Division I-AA Championship Game.
Before coaching for the Patriots, Rhoads was an assistant coach at Frankfort Community High School from 2001-2010 and at Johnston City High School from 2011-2013.
"It is an honor to be able to lead this program in this stage of its development," said Rhoads. "Helping assist the growth of these young men in their life's journey is the best part of this job."
Rhoads now gets to turn his attention from just offseason recruiting to leading his men into the tough 2017 schedule ahead of them.
"The schedule is beefed up this year and will challenge us early on," said Rhoads. "Gaining experience, eliminating mistakes and challenging ourselves each and every day are our most immediate goals. We have some very fine athletes on our team and we want them to perform to the very maximum of their abilities for the ultimate success of the team."
With any new program, the vision for the team makes its slight adjustments under the new eyes of its leader.
When asked about the future, Rhoads stated that his vision was "to foster an environment that allows [the] team to compete and be successful on the field while honoring and observing [the] core values at Morthland College."
While the head coach may change, much of the Patriots pace of play on the field will remain similar to what gave them such success last season.
"Our players really like the spread offense concepts and playing fast," said Rhoads. "Our young men have proven they can execute that style to our advantage."
On the defensive side of the ball, no change is necessary, prompting the "if it isn't broken, don't fix it" mantra.
"Coach Ryan Patton, our defensive coordinator, picks up where we left off last year having pitched two shutouts in the final two games of the season," said Rhoads.
Alongside Patton, Stephen Bateman makes a jump by being named the Associate Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator for the upcoming season.
"Coach Bateman is excited about the opportunity to continue to build on what we accomplished last year," said Rhoads. "I'm confident that he is going to do a tremendous job running our offense."
The Patriots will kick off this fall at Mississippi College on September 2. Their home opener is on September 9 versus Tabor College from Kansas.
"I'm very excited for our players and happy to serve the College and the athletic program." said Rhoads. "I hope the people of Southern Illinois come out and support us when we play this fall."
Morthland College is a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association. The Patriot athletic program currently sponsors six varsity sports: football, volleyball, men's and women's basketball, baseball and softball. Follow along with all our teams on Twitter (@MC_Patriots) and Facebook (@mcpatriots). You can also check out scores, recaps, upcoming schedules and photos on our website, www.morthlandpatriots.com.