As a former Alpena High School football player, Brian Tippman knows just how important the Wildcats are to the community.
Now Tippman is hoping to turn his alma mater into a winner.
Tippman was announced as Alpena's new football coach on Wednesday via press release and will replace Mel Skillman, who coached one season. Tippman is Alpena's third coach in the last three seasons.
"At the beginning of this year, there were some kids that showed interest in improving the program and I found myself in a position where I could help those kids and find some success," Tippman said.
Tippman inherits a team has fallen on hard times as of late. The Wildcats finished 1-8 under Skillman last year and are 3-24 in the past three seasons.
Tippman hopes to use his new position to have a positive impact on his players' lives, but also said any success the program achieves will come largely as a result of hard work by the players.
"Dedication and hard work go a long away," Tippman said. "In Class A football, you need to have kids who are dedicated and the kids have shown their committed."
This season, the Wildcats return a great deal of talent including quarterback Tyler Pintar, running back Jordan Ferguson, receiver Dylan Hoes and linebacker Brad Styma. Several talented JV players will likely be thrown into the mix as well.
Tippman played tight end and linebacker for the Wildcats from 1986-87 and walked on for Central Michigan for two seasons. He returned to Alpena and spent several years as the director of the football program at Thunder Bay Junior High; a program that was the precursor to the Alpena Jets youth program.
He has also previously served as Alpena's athletic director.
With players already committing themselves to offseason training, Tippman hopes it will pay off as the Wildcats aim to increase their level of competitiveness against a tough slate of Big North Conference teams.
"We need to find a way to get the kids involved," Tippman said. "Having fun, but also growing physically to be able to keep up with teams."
Alpena opens the 2014 season on Aug. 28 at home against Escanaba.
James Andersen can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.