By SETH STASKEY
For The Intelligencer
BELLAIRE - The more than month-long search for the next Bellaire High School football coach came to an end Tuesday morning.
Stephen Andres, who has spent 18 years as an assistant coach at a couple of Ohio Division I heavyweights in suburban Cincinnati, was formally approved by the Bellaire Board of Education during a special meeting.
Coaching positions at Cincinnati St. Xavier and Lakota East are highly sought after, but, for Andres, the idea of coaching in a small town was too much not to explore.
"High school football is the purest form of the game and no where is more pure than in small towns like (Bellaire)," Andres said. "I look around and I see the pride and enthusiasm that people have for football."
Those factors ultimately led to Andres, who has spent the last five years working on the defensive side of the ball with the St. Xavier Bombers, to contact Bellaire High Athletic Director Molly Feller about the position.
Shortly after the board meeting, Andres got to work. He met with some possible members of his coaching staff during the afternoon and then met with his future players.
"I think I've put 2,000 miles on my car during this process. I've been to two basketball games and I've been here four or five times," Andres said. "I've seen some of the kids, and I am seeing what I expected, which is a bunch of tough, blue-collar kids. Valley tough kids, and I think I can accentuate that and play to our strengths."
Andres is taking over for Jose Davis, who stepped down after five years at the helm of his alma mater. He guided the Big Reds to the OHSAA postseason both in 2012 and 2013 and also the OVAC Class 3A title and a piece of the Buckeye 8 title last season.
"They've played 108 years of football here and there's been a heck of a lot of success," Andres said. "There's a long line of great coaches and players, obviously. I just want to add to that and try to put a team out there that can be the best it can be for this community."
Andres, 42, is a 1989 graduate of Linden McKinley High School in Columbus where he played football, wrestled and ran track. He then headed to Cincinnati and was a four-year starter at College of Mt. St. Joseph, earning a degree in physical education and health education.
From there, he began his coaching career and earned his Master's Degree from the University of Cincinnati. He's worked at Goshen as well as the two aforementioned Division I schools.
"I've been an assistant for 18 years, so it was like if not now (to be come a head coach), then when?," Andres said. "The challenge of it excites me. Plus, I think I can make an impact on these kids."
The majority of Andres' coaching background comes on the defensive side of the ball. He was the defensive coordinator at Lakota East for two seasons and worked with the linebackers, special teams and defensive line at St. Xavier.
Along with coaching football, Andres has experience coaching track and directing camps.
As for what Andres expects in the 2014 season, he wasn't going to begin to guess a record or anything of the sort.
"I want to see kids running around, having a good time with their buddies, while playing as hard as they can and hopefully affording us an opportunity to win every game," Andres said. "I have very high expectations and a vision for where this is heading. A former coach of mine told me once 'shoot for the moon, and on the way down, catch a couple of stars.' That's what were going to do, and we're going to work hard at it."
Andres also has been hired for the 2014-15 school year as a member of the faculty in a position yet to be determined.