A familiar face will guide the Farwell varsity football team starting this fall. Al Esterline, a 1995 Farwell graduate and long time assistant coach at the school takes over for Scott Barnhart, who resigned at a board meeting last month.
“I’m really excited,” Esterline said. “The program has been headed in the right direction and hopefully we can keep it going that way.”
After nine straight losing seasons, Barnhart took over the Farwell program and helped guide the Eagles to a 5-4 mark in 2009 and a playoff appearance in 2010, where they beat Clare 19-14 in the first round. Farwell went 4-5 last year. The new coach hopes that the program’s recent success can breed more success.
“We’re going to do a lot of things very similar to what’s been done in the past,” Esterline said. “We’re going to be an option football team (offensively). Defensively, I think that we’re going to look pretty similar too.”
Esterline has a wealth of football coaching experience. After playing for Farwell as a fullback and linebacker, he helped coach the Eagle’s junior varsity program, including one year as the head coach. After a three year stint in Clare’s program, Esterline moved to St. Louis as a varsity assistant before becoming their varsity head coach from 2004-2008.
After spending a year off from coaching in 2009, Esterline was a junior varsity coach at Shepherd in 2010 before returning to Farwell this year as a junior varsity.
“I’ve always wanted to be the head coach here,” Esterline, who has taught math at Farwell since last December said. “It’s kind of home. It’s where I grew up. I had an opportunity to come back and get a teaching job here.”
Though Farwell has only made the playoffs once since going back-to-back postseasons in 1998-99, Esterline is hoping the Eagles can be annual contenders.
“I think I want want what everyone else is hoping for, to get into the playoffs and make a run,” Esterline said. “I think that the boys are starting to work in that direction with (getting in) the weight room. We’ll just see where it goes. I’ve had a lot of the kids that have moved up from junior varsity. I have a pretty good rapport with those guys, so we’re just working on building on what we can.”
So as August 6, the first day of practice looms for the Eagles, Esterline can’t wait to get started.
“We’re getting excited about playing football,” he said. “The kids are working hard in the weight room right now and we’ve got some things that we’re starting to work on.”