Justin Crocker is getting his shot at being a head coach.
The River Bluff assistant was named the new football coach at Richland Northeast on Tuesday. He replaces Bennett Weigle, who went 4-16 in two seasons at Richland Northeast before stepping down in November.
“It is a program that has had success,” Crocker said of Richland Northeast. “We played them at River Bluff this year and went home and told my wife that was a job that could be a really good job. So, I was very interested in it when it came open.”
Crocker’s first game as RNE coach will come against River Bluff on Aug. 23.
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Crocker has been an assistant coach for the past 15 seasons and was offensive line coach at River Bluff for one season. He also has coached at Lexington, Ben Lippen, Seneca, Daniel and Walhalla.
Crocker was offensive line coach and run game coordinator on Lexington’s staff when they advanced to the Class 4A Division II championship game in 2015. Last year, Crocker was part of Gators team that went from 2-8 to 9-2 and a playoff appearance.
Crocker said being around successful coaches and staffs helped prepare him for his head coaching opportunity.
“Always been a goal of mine to be a head coach,” Crocker said. “I always have taken jobs to prepare me to be head coach and gave me responsibilities for this type of a job.”
Crocker plans on bringing in his own offensive and defensive coordinator but he will call the plays some on offense. He said RNE will be a run-first team that emphasizes being physical up front.
Crocker plans on meeting with RNE players Wednesday afternoon. There will be a meet-and-greet with parents Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Crocker faces a rebuilding challenge at RNE. The Cavaliers haven’t made the postseason since 2015, the year they moved into Region 3-4A with the likes of South Pointe, Ridge View, Westwood and York.
RNE’s last winning season came in 2011 when it went 9-3. Its best season since then was going 6-6 in 2015.
“We are going to have to recruit the halls and got to give them a reason to be out there,” Crocker said.