Plainfield hired a new football coach Thursday, but Tyler Bless won’t officially start in that role for another season.
Brian Woodard will coach his 17th and final season at Plainfield this fall. The school announced at its board meeting Thursday that Bless, 31, will join the staff this season and take over for Woodard the following year.
“My first words to coach Woodard is that it is unique,” said Bless, who graduated from Mooresville in 2009 and Franklin College in 2013. “Obviously I’ve heard of it happening when Gene Keady was coaching at Purdue and Matt Painter came on to coach. But it’s certainly not an occasion that happens in high school.”
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Bless, the son of Avon coach Mark Bless, was the offensive coordinator at Columbus North the past three seasons for his uncle, Tim Bless. Prior to Columbus North, Bless had coached in college at Lindsey Wilson College (Ky.) for a season, and coached one season at Butler as running backs coach, two seasons at the University of Indianapolis and started out as a graduate assistant at Defiance College in Ohio.
“It’s really been a way of life for me,” Bless said of coaching. “My family members are coaches, but I never felt pressured by the men in my life to do what I’m doing now. But it certainly sways my passion for the sport and is the reason why I got into it. I’ll try to carry the torch the best I can.”
Bless said his hope for the upcoming season is to “build relationships with the players and coaching staff” and to establish himself in the community. “I want to be the best assistant coach I can be for coach Woodard,” he said.
Woodard, who is 92-79 in his 16 seasons at Plainfield, has a son, Blake, who will graduate in the spring. But he wanted to come back one more season.
“When we started talking about this, my bosses asked if I would be OK with it and I said it would be with the right guy,” Woodard said. “My job in this was to help find that person because the last thing you want to create is some sort of power struggle. I think Tyler is going to be excited to be on staff and excited to get to meet the coaches and certainly the players. He has an entire year to feel things about and see what he wants to put in place.”
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Woodard said he is likely done as a head coach after the 2022 season, though he said he might be interested in working as an assistant at the small-college level if the opportunity arises.
“For me, I know it’s time for me to be done as a head coach,” he said. “I love it. I really do. But it’s time. In the right situation, I’d love to coach again in at the small-college level. But I’m also looking forward to being football dad.”
Plainfield was 4-6 last season but started three freshmen on offense.
“Last year was a tough year in a lot of ways,” Woodard said. “I’d like to be able to write the script a little different because you don’t want that to be the lasting memory.”
Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at 317-444-6649.