Boardman gives Dota a chance
BOARDMAN — After a few years away from being a head coach, D.J. Dota says he’s feeling rejuvenated.
He’ll bring that energy and refreshed mindset to Boardman, where he was named head coach of the Spartans on a chilly Saturday morning at the 50 yard line of Spartan Stadium, where many supporters and Boardman players were in attendance.
“I’m really excited about being a head coach again,” said Dota, who had previous head coaching stops at West Branch for eight years and Warren G. Harding for four before serving in assistant roles the last few years. “Sometimes, when you’re doing something, you don’t realize how much you’re going to miss it. I think after about a year and a half, I got really itchy. … So I’m excited to have the opportunity, especially at a place like this with all the support.”
Dota replaces Crestview High School graduate Seth Antram, who guided Boardman to a 4-5 record in his only season there before recently taking the vacant position at Chaney. Antram previously was an assistant coach at Chaney before taking the Boardman job.
In remarks made during the board of education meeting, Boardman athletic director Marco Marinucci noted Boardman had about 37 applicants for the opening, and narrowed it down from there.
“I truly believe we have a guy who we thought was going to make a difference for our kids,” he added. “We were looking for head coaching experience. He’s got quite a few years of that at both Warren Harding and West Branch. He specializes in strength and conditioning, which is going to help all of our programs.”
Indeed, Dota says a premium will be put on the weight room while he’s guiding the program.
“We’ll pride ourselves on hard work and being tough. Those are two things that win a lot of football games, and we’ll see that here in the weight room,” Dota said from that very weight room after the meeting. “Our guys will know this is the most important place to be. This is where you’re going to win football games, where you’ll build mental toughness. I want our guys to know they’re going to show up every week, and we want people to remember who we were the Monday after they played us.”
Dota also noted he won’t have to go far to get to the facilities at the high school — just a six-minute walk from his house. Because of that, he said he feels it will be easier for him to be involved in both the program and the Boardman community.
He also expressed a comfort with the interview process.
“I felt really good talking with the committee about doing this thing together and taking this (program) to the next level,” he said. “I’m really excited. I feel like it’s a really good fit for me personally and for my family.”
When the Spartans do take the field, Dota says they’ll have a run-first approach, but that he’s not committed to any one playbook. Rather, Dota has traditionally figured out which 15 players are best on each side of the ball, and then has tailored his system to their abilities.
“It’s always a hybrid of something. Our base is we’re going to run the football and on defense our main goal is to stop the run, but we’ll base that off the people we have,” he said. “We want to put them in the best positions to be successful on Friday nights.”
Dota said his first order of business, though, is to set program expectations.
“It’s a great tradition here. I’m going to teach my vision and where I see us going — these are the expectations of our program, and these are the expectations we’ll live by,” he said. “Whether that’s in school, on the field, in the weight room or in the community, this is how we’ll act, and hopefully we demonstrate greatness in all those things we do.”