|With Luther on the upswing, the school chose to stay in-house for its next hire.
Photo by Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com
Luther athletic diretor Renae Hartl has announced that Caleb Padilla, who has been the defensive coordinator for the Norse football program the past three years, has been promoted to head football coach. Padilla replaces Aaron Hafner who resigned last week after serving five years as head coach. “I look forward to building on the football program created under the leadership of coach Hafner,” commented Padilla.
During his three years at Luther, the defensive unit has improved each year. In 2017, the Norse recorded their highest Iowa Conference finish in scoring defense in nine years. The past two years, the Norse finished first in the league in pass defense and improved to second in total defense and scoring defense in 2017.
"Coming off a year with the highest finish in the Iowa Conference standings in 21 years, has brought a heightened level of excitement within our football program and athletic department,” stated Hartl. “I feel the football program has a great staff and momentum, and I am thrilled about continuing the climb with Coach Padilla. His leadership on the defensive side of the football for the past three years, as well as his coaching experiences at Notre Dame, Albion, and Colorado School of Mines, have prepared him for this next phase of his career. I am excited to officially welcome our student-athletes back to campus next week to begin the Padilla era of Luther football,” she said.
A native of West Liberty, Iowa, Padilla becomes a head coach for the first time of his 12-year coaching career after serving as an assistant at the high school, NCAA Division II and Division III levels. In 2015, he joined the Norse staff as defensive coordinator from Division II Notre Dame (Ohio), where he served in the same role for two years. His coaching resume also includes two years as defensive coordinator at Albion; outside linebackers coach at Colorado School of Mines; and two years as the varsity defensive backs coach and junior varsity defensive coordinator at Rangeview High School, Aurora, Colorado.
While at Winona State from 2001-05, Padilla was a member of the Warriors football team that captured four Northern Sun Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships.
“I am incredibly grateful to coach Renae Hartl and president Paula Carlson for giving me this opportunity to be head football coach at Luther College,” stated Padilla. “During our three years in Decorah, my wife Kristin and I have fallen in love with the Luther College community and the Decorah community.”
“I also want to thank our players, their parents, our coaching staff and my mentors, Bob Benson, at University of Pennsylvania, Craig Rundle at Albion College, Tom Sawyer at Winona State University and coach Hafner, for believing in me and helping in my growth and development in this profession I love so much,” he said.
“We are going to provide a unique culture in which maximizing the individual potential of our student-athletes in every area of their life is our focus. We will be relentless, detailed and consistent in improving ourselves each day and working hard to be an integral part of the college and Decorah community. I look forward to building relationships with alumni, donors, community members and friends of the athletic department that will help strengthen and continue to move the football program to the next level,” he stated.