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PIGSKIN PREVIEW BradLaPlante takes over program rich with tradition

By Guy N. Limbeck

glimbeck@postbulletin.com

Brad LaPlante might get double takes from people who think he's too young to be the head football coach at Rochester Community and Technical College. But his youthfulness is also an asset.

The 27-year-old takes over as the new RCTC coach this year. In the process, he also takes over a highly successful program. The Yellowjackets have been to eight straight state championship games and seven straight bowl games.

RCTC has fielded a successful football team for decades. In the 1980s the Yellowjackets had 28th rated junior college football team in the country. That ranking jumped to No. 20 in the 90s and the Yellowjackets are No. 8 so far this decade.

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"I don't think there needs to be any pressure (on me)," LaPlante said. "We have a good staff and we're all on the same page."

LaPlante returns to RCTC, where he played in 1997-98 and was an assistant coach from 1999 to 2002. He was an assistant coach at New Caney, Texas, a year ago. He was hired as the head coach at RCTC for the upcoming season after Tom Hosier resigned following the 2003 season.

"He's a product of our system," RCTC defensive coach Chuck Siefert said. "He's been there and done that. He played here so he knows what it takes."

LaPlante admits he's had to win over parents and the public, some who have said he is "too young."

"Then they come to a practice and say 'Hey, he's organized.' Well, this is college," LaPlante said.

He has shrugged off the early judgments.

"No matter what job you have you're going to have some criticism," LaPlante said. "You have to take it with a grain of salt; it's all how you handle it."

LaPlante, who played on a high school state championship team at Chatfield, hasn't had any problems winning over his players.

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"The biggest thing is he's young enough to relate to the kids," Siefert said. "He's got the respect of the players."

LaPlante obviously wants to win games, but he said that is not his primary objective.

"We want to improve each game," he said. He also wants he players to grow as much off the field, if not more, as they do on it.

"They came here to be students first," LaPlante said. "If they came here to just be an athlete, they're not going to last."

LaPlante has been pleased with the action of his players, even if it is very early in the season.

"So far this is one of the best groups we've had in here, attitude-wise," he said.

LaPlante is also counting on his assistants to help make the transition smooth this year. The Yellowjackets have all new offensive and defensive terminology.

"I've worked under five coaches over the years," LaPlante said. "You take the good and the bad and take the knowledge that goes with it."

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Seven of RCTC's nine coaches are former Yellowjacket players. Joining LaPlante on the staff are Siefert, Dale Amy, Dexter General, Dave Adams, Clarence Woods, Donny Holcomb, Robert Cothern and Don Charleson.

"I think we have a good experienced staff," LaPlante said.

LaPlante couldn't get his older brother, Brian, to join the staff, however. Brian LaPlante is the athletics director and men's basketball coach at RCTC.

He is a former offensive coordinator for the Yellowjackets, and this fall will also coach men's golf.

"He would have been a nice ally," Brian LaPlante said.

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