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December 10, 2013 | 04:10 PMWALWORTH — Big Foot Chiefs’ head football coach Rodney Wedig has accepted an offer to teach and coach football at Beloit Memorial High School and will leave Walworth next year.
“A unique opportunity presented itself and I thought that this is kind of an exciting challenge,” Wedig said. “You know, they’ve had some tough years over there, so I’m kind of looking forward to trying to build another program.”
Wedig has coached Big Foot football for the past 11 years and in that time has coached the team to three state championship appearances, seven consecutive Rock Valley – South Conference championships between 2007 and 2013 and at one point compiled a 52-game winning streak against conference opponents. Under Wedig, Big Foot won the 2009 Division IV State Championship.
In 2013, the Chiefs were 11-1 and won the conference championship.
Wedig has coached several athletes who went on to play at the college level and coached one who made it to the pros — Travis Frederick, was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft. He currently starts for the Cowboys as a center on the offensive line.
“You know, it’s a great job at Big Foot, I mean, the people have been great to me and my family,” Wedig said. “There will be some tears shed the last day of school that’s for sure.”
Beloit Memorial is a Division I school with around 1,700 students. Big Foot’s enrollment is around 500. Wedig is moving on to a much larger program, but Beloit’s football team has struggled in recent years.
This season, the Beloit Memorial Purple Knights finished 1-8 — the latest in a long line of losing seasons that stretches back to 1998.
But Wedig has rebuilt programs in the past — in fact transforming losing programs into perennial contenders is his specialty.
When Wedig arrived at Big Foot in 2002, he inherited a struggling 3-6 team.
According to an article titled “Big Foot’s Wedig Named Packers High School Coach Of The Week” posted on packers.com on Sept. 26, 2003 the Big Foot Chiefs hadn’t had a winning season since 1994 before Wedig took over, and had never reached the WIAA playoffs. By 2013, the Wedig had led the Chiefs to the playoffs in every one of his 11 seasons.
Wedig had similar success at Almond-Bancroft High School, a Division VII school located a little more than 25 miles south of Stevens Point. According to the same article named above, Wedig coached at Almond-Bancroft for eight years, and took his team to the playoffs in four of his last five seasons. Almond-Bancroft won their first-ever conference championship under Wedig.
He expressed interest in helping Big Foot find a new coach to replace him next season. “I told the administration I would do everything I could to ... help find a guy with a personality that would mesh with the staff,” Wedig said. “Because I’ve got a great staff and you know I’ve been fortunate enough that most of my staff are teachers in the building ... so I’d hate to lose some of those guys who have worked so hard for so many years.”
Wedig said he didn’t expect to leave, but Beloit Memorial got in contact with him at the end of the football season a few weeks ago.
“You know, every year about this time of year, there are some openings and some people call and you know, you kind of sit down and weigh your options,” Wedig said.
Wedig’s youngest son, Gus, is a senior at Big Foot and will graduate in June, 2014.
“It really came together kind of quickly,” Wedig said. “They just invited me to come over and see the school, and come and listen what they had to offer and what the school had to offer.”
Wedig liked what he saw.
When asked if he would be sad to leave, he responded: “Oh, absolutely.”