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Rumrey's back

The former North Medford coach returns to the Black Tornado football team after a three-year hiatus

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

Former North Medford High head football coach Rod Rumrey had the former removed from his title Wednesday after being introduced as the new Black Tornado leader in a news conference at North Medford High.

Rumrey's official return to the fold comes just nine days after John Beck resigned the football position to take on coaching and administrative duties at Crater.

We wanted to act fast, said North Medford Athletic Director Mike Kay. When Rod showed interest, it just made sense.

Beck, who was elevated from defensive coordinator to head coach after Rumrey stepped down at North in 2001, guided the Tornado to the state playoffs in three straight seasons, finishing as high as state runner-up this past season. Along with his football duties at Crater, Beck will be the school's assistant principal and athletic director.

— When Rumrey heard of his former assistant's departure, he said he felt an obligation to the players and the program he helped build.

I'm very excited to have this opportunity come along, said the 56-year-old coach, who was a volunteer assistant this past season. I put a lot into this program and it was kind of in a tough situation.

I left too soon last time. I felt it shouldn't have ended that way.

Rumrey was forced to the sidelines three years ago due to health concerns, but those have since been alleviated. He said he was misdiagnosed with an undisclosed illness for the 10 months surrounding his resignation, but is now healthy and chomping at the bit to get going.

I've had a chance to talk to some of the players, Rumrey said. They believe in themselves and just want to get it going.

We're going to make an effort to get back to where we were (state championship game).

Rumrey's coaching r'sum? boasts a 205-96 record, two state titles and the 12th-highest win total in Oregon prep football history.

In 13 seasons at North, Rumrey compiled a 98-61 mark with a state title in 1993 and a runner-up finish in 2000, after which he was named Oregon Class 4A coach of the year.

While Rumrey's influence was limited in his role as a volunteer last season, his reputation at North has players excited about the Tornado's prospects next fall.

I didn't get to play with him, but I just hear how great a coach and great a guy he was, said North Medford junior Ben Running, who is in line to take over as quarterback next season.

We're all just real excited, added junior Drew Herrera, an honorable mention all-Southern Oregon Conference wide receiver. No one's had the chance to play for him, but (the players) are going to do whatever it takes to help him.

Besides a new front man, the remainder of the North coaching staff will also take on a different look in 2004.

Former Grants Pass head coach Jeff Weiss is believed to be in line to handle defensive coordinator duties, while Brent Barry, Rumrey's son-in-law, is also believed to be the choice as offensive coordinator.

Weiss was dismissed as head coach with the Cavemen after going 23-16 in four seasons that included two state-playoff trips. Barry, the current North softball coach, was the offensive coordinator under Rumrey and was a finalist for the head coaching position awarded to Beck. Barry served one season as Beck's offensive coordinator before stepping down.

Mark Hodges, offensive coordinator for the last two years under Beck, submitted his resignation Wednesday.

It was clear they were ready to take the offense in a different direction, said Hodges, who will remain the strength and conditioning coach. I won't be on the sidelines anymore, but I'm going to continue to support the program 1,000 percent.

Rumrey left a fully-stocked cupboard of talent when he first resigned and now returns to a team with another potentially big season ahead.

The Black Tornado returns eight all-SOC performers from a team that finished 12-2 and lost 18-6 in the state title game.

Ya know, I've always been an active coach, said Rumrey. I want to be in a little on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

The part I love most (about coaching) is working with these kids.

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Rod Rumrey, left, speaks with a group of North Medford football players following a news conference announcing that he is returning as head coach of the Black Tornado. Rumrey, who has more than 200 career wins and 30 years of high school head-coaching ex Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli