February 28, 2012

George Fox delays football, but names coach

Chris Casey formerly coached at his alma mater, Linfield, and Whitworth in the Northwest Conference.
George Fox photo

Chris Casey, the coach who took over a struggling football program at Aloha (Ore.) High School and turned it into a state champion, has been selected from a national pool of candidates to lead the newly-revived gridiron program at George Fox University, an NCAA Division III school which is bringing the sport back in the fall of 2014 after a 45-year hiatus.

The school originally announced it would start football in 2013. The one-year delay has caused Northwest Conference schools to scramble to fill the one-year hole in their schedules.

Casey guided Aloha to the Oregon High School Class 6A championship in 2010. Before he arrived at the school in 2004, the Warriors had won only 17 games in the previous 14 seasons, and their playoff appearance in 2009 ended a 22-year postseason drought.

Previously, Casey served as an assistant football, recruiting coordinator and baseball coach at his alma mater, Linfield (1985-94), and as an assistant football coach and strength/conditioning coach at Whitworth (1994-2004). He was also an assistant football, wrestling and baseball coach at The Dalles High School (1982-85).

The move to George Fox marks a homecoming for Casey, who grew up in Newberg, Ore., where George Fox’s undergraduate campus is located.  His ties to the community include the fact he served as a ball boy for the George Fox football program in the late 1960s and graduated from Newberg High School in 1976. His younger brother, Pat Casey, later served as head baseball coach at George Fox (1988-94) before taking the top baseball job at Oregon State. Another brother, Brian, serves as Newberg’s police chief.

Casey is looking forward to taking his self-described “blue collar” coaching style to the collegiate level.

“I’m excited for the challenge of building a program from the ground level up – and the prospect of returning to my hometown,” said Casey, who grew up only a block from the George Fox campus.  “Having been a part of collegiate athletics for 22 years as a player and coach, I’ve experienced the importance of academics and athletics and the roles they play in developing young people.

“I’m also thoroughly impressed with (George Fox President) Robin Baker and his commitment to this.  It’s a tremendous opportunity, and I’m looking forward to being a part of something that will make an impact on the campus and Newberg communities.  I’ve seen how football can infuse enthusiasm on campus, with alumni and in your town, and I’d love to see that happen at Fox.”

George Fox will kick off its first football season in more than four decades in September of 2014. The team will play its home games in Stoffer Family Stadium, to be constructed on campus beginning in 2012, and will compete in the Northwest Conference.

Prior to his coaching career, Casey played football for Linfield from 1978 to 1981. He also played the sport at Mt. Hood Community College (1976-78) and suited up for football, track, basketball and baseball at Newberg High (1972-76).

“Everywhere Chris has gone, the program has risen – he’s a winner,” said George Fox athletic director Craig Taylor, who reported that more than 80 candidates expressed interest in the job, including coaches in Texas, Florida, California and the Midwest.  “In his 10 years at Whitworth, the team went from one of the worst in the conference to a league title. He did the same at Aloha, taking a down-and-out program all the way to a state championship.

“What really impressed us is the fact that he invests in his players and has high expectations of them academically. Coaching is more than just about football to him. It’s about students getting better and growing as young men. He’s one of those guys you’d want your son to be around.”

Casey will coach Aloha one final season this fall before embarking on his George Fox commitment in January of 2013.

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