Andre Dobson has made a career out of starting football programs from scratch at Christian high schools, so if he seems overly confident about accelerating the timeline that Greenwood Christian had previously proposed, it’s because he’s done this before.
With nearly two decades of experience to his credit, Dobson was introduced Thursday afternoon as the first football coach in GCA history.
Greenwood Christian had established an exploratory committee last May to explore the possibility of adding football. At the time, athletic director Devin Gray had proposed a tentative timeline that would have involved a condensed schedule of mostly junior varsity opponents in 2022.
More recently, Gray had left open the possibility of beginning with an eight-man team, something that a number of smaller Indiana high schools are introducing in the fall as a possible bridge to full 11-on-11 action.
On Thursday, Dobson made it clear that he has bigger intentions.
“We’re definitely behind the 8-ball on everything, but our plan is to go full 11-man this very first season,” he said. “We’re going to dive right in. We’re very excited about that. I’ve done that at a previous school, and we saw a lot of success because of it. There’s a tremendous amount of work that has to go into it, but we’re excited to be able to offer 11-man football.
The hope, Dobson says, is to fill out at least an eight-game schedule, preferably all of those games against other varsity opponents. He’ll accept some JV games if necessary, but having done some research already, he believes that “there’s enough (Class A) teams looking for games that we might be able to” get a full varsity slate.
Dobson found out about the job through his brother-in-law, whose family lives in Mooresville. Interest in being closer to family — his daughter, Mya, will be a college freshman in Missouri — as well as escaping the rising cost of living in Florida, made a move northward more appealing.
Additionally, building the Cougars from the ground up is a challenge he feels he’s equipped to handle.
“My whole career’s kind of been starting programs or rebuilding programs,” he said, “so I’m very excited to get there. I think with the move to the new campus, there’s a lot of energy and excitement about what’s going on with the school, and when a school is growing and trying to better itself, adding sports is always a good thing — and being able to add football is definitely one of the big sports to build that culture that you’re trying to build.”
Dobson isn’t quite sure yet what kind of numbers he’ll have on the roster — he’s coming up to host a meeting for interested players and their parents on May 31 — but he was encouraged by what he saw when he visited GCA previously during the interview process.
(His son, Trey, will be a freshman in the fall, so at least one roster spot has been filled already.)
“We have reached out to the students and trying to gauge where our numbers will be,” Dobson said. “There’s a good number of eighth-graders that are moving up that want to be involved. I’m bringing a son with me, so there’s another one. When I went up for my interview and saw the kids walking around, there’s definitely some good-looking kids on campus.”
One thing Greenwood Christian won’t have in time for this inaugural season is a home field; Gray says that eventually having a facility on campus is a long-term goal but no concrete plans are in place. Renting a nearby field in order to host a couple of games each season remains a possibility, but if the team has to play all of its games on the road starting off, so be it.
Despite that obstacle, Dobson is brimming with optimism about the future of football at GCA.
“I’m excited about the school’s location compared to the other private schools that are offering football,” he said. “I think it’s definitely something that is needed in the immediate area.”