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Lude’s back where he belongs

BERLIN CENTER — Jason Lude had hectic first day as Western Reserve’s head football coach.

“It’s been a crazy day,” he said. “We’ll remember this one.”

On Wednesday he said goodbye to his old team after 12 seasons as a Salem assistant coach, his son’s first birthday ended in the emergency room after falling and putting a tooth through his lip and then Lude had to make a quick trip to the store after running out of diapers.

“He’s fine. It was just a scare because there was a lot of blood,” Lude said. “He’s a tough one. He’s Berlin Center strong.”

All that came within hours after being named Western’s Reserve interim head coach — the Blue Devils’ third head coach in 2020.

“This is not a stepping stone for me,” Lude said. “As long as I’m able to coach, I’m going to be a Blue Devil.”

Lude is a 2008 graduate of Western Reserve High School and knew he would be back some day.

“It’s my dream job since I was a junior,” he said. “I wrote a letter to the guidance counselor and said I wanted to be the head coach at Western Reserve.”

“Dreams come true. I wasn’t happy with the way I got it. You can’t write these endings.”

Andy Hake stepped down from his teaching and coaching positions in February after 103 wins and nine playoff appearances in 11 seasons. His replacement, David Rach, resigned last week after three months on the job due to health reasons.

Lude will meet with Western Reserve parents today before setting a meeting with his new team.

“I know what’s been going on in the community,” he said. “I want to get to meet the parents first.”

Lude said he has no set plans on what style of play the Blue Devils will feature.

“Whatever is best for Western Reserve,” he said. “We’re going to figure it out together.”

Lude learned a lot during his time at Salem.

“The first contract I had was for freshman coach and an opportunity presented itself,” he said. “I take great pride in myself that I never missed a freshman, junior varsity or varsity game. That’s the kind of commitment I want our kids to have.”

Lude takes over a football program that boasts 14 straight winning seasons.

“We’ve had a lot of great coaches come through Western Reserve,” he said. “To be even mentioned with those guys is a dream. I hope I never wake up.”

Devils notes

• Lude is a salesman for Myers Equipment near Canfield, selling school buses.

“I have the full support of Myers,” he said. “Their kids are Western Reserve kids, too. When we say Blue Devils for life, we mean it.”

• Lude’s dad, also named Jason, was a starter on Western Reserve’s 1989 state semifinalist basketball team.

• Lude got his first coaching position at Salem right out of high school.

“I wasn’t ready, but they welcomed me into their home,” he said. “I said goodbye to the kids and I’ll never forget the times with Salem. There will be a special place in my heart for Salem.”

“When I was at Salem, the first score I looked for was Western Reserve,” Lude said. “Now that I’m at Western Reserve, Salem will be the first score I look for.”

• He doesn’t consider himself an interim coach.

“It’s permanent in my opinion,” Lude said. “We’re going to work hard. I can’t wait to get started.”

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