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Mishawaka names Keith Kinder next head football coach

MISHAWAKA, Ind. - After the departure of longtime head coach Bart Curtis, Mishawaka High School conducted an in-depth search for his replacement.

That search concluded Tuesday, with the announcement of the role being filled by a familiar name: offensive coordinator Keith Kinder.

The School City board approved the hiring Tuesday evening, making Kinder just the fourth head coach at Mishawaka in three decades.

"This is an opportunity I've looked forward to for my entire career," he said at an introductory press conference. "I am ready to serve and lead this football program, hopefully for years to come."

Kinder is no stranger to the Cavemen.

He served on staff under Curtis for the past seven seasons. That run included five sectional championships and a trip to the state title game in 2012, so he knows what the team's success could mean to the school and its fans.

"It's not lost on me one bit how important football is to this community and this town," he said. "I know that there have been some great football coaches that have come before me, and I'm excited to continue to build this program and take it to even greater heights in the coming years."

Kinder was a quarterback on the back-to-back state championship Jimtown teams in 1997 and 1998, but for the past five seasons as Mishawaka's offensive coordinator, he has embraced the ground game that has defined the Cavemen.

During his time leading the offensive unit, Mishawaka has averaged 30 points per game, and has not been shut out. So despite the coaching transition, Kinder promised that the approach will remain the same.

"I don't want to say it's Bart's offense or my offense. It's Mishawaka's offense and it will stay Mishawaka's offense. We're committed to running the football successfully. On Friday nights, we're still going to run the football."

Kinder's hiring is the latest move towards a new era in Mishawaka football.

The school district approved about five million dollars of improvements to its schools, some of which involved a facelift to Mishawaka's Steele Stadium.

Among the improvements include a new video board and an "Alumni Plaza" to welcome fans at the stadium's West entrance.

“It's a really special time to be a Caveman, with the improvements that are going on around the stadium, around the community and the corporation as a whole. I don’t think our corporation has ever been in as good of a place as it is right now so it’s a really exciting time for me.”

Kinder joined the Mishawaka staff in 2012 after spending time at Southern Wells, where he was the head baseball coach and was an assistant on the football and basketball teams. He is 37 years old.

He also said any other members of the Curtis staff who wished to return would be welcomed back.

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